Laura struck near high tide and is predicted to inundate coastal areas of western Louisiana to the Texas border in up to 15 to 20 feet of water, perhaps the largest storm surge in the Gulf of Mexico since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The surge threat prompted a mandatory evacuation for Lake Charles, La., where much of the city of 78,000 may flood. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) announced that he has activated the entire Louisiana National Guard to help with hurricane response.
Laura was beginning to unleash a swath of destructive winds when it made landfall, with “catastrophic damage” expected, according to the National Hurricane Center, along with widespread power outages. Hurricane-force winds could extend well inland over western Louisiana and East Texas on Thursday morning.
Heavy rain was predicted to be widespread across the west-central Gulf Coast with five to 10 inches falling over a broad area, and locally up to 18 inches, leading to flash flooding.