Colorado Springs

Laura moves toward landfall in southwestern Louisiana – The Denver Post – Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs, Colorado 2020-08-27 12:46:53 –

Laura roared toward landfall in southwestern Louisiana near the Texas border as a menacing Category 4 hurricane late Wednesday, pushing ocean water topped with waves on to a low-lying coast that forecasters said would be inundated with “unsurvivable” storm surge as much as 20 feet deep.

Winds gusted above hurricane force to 91 mph (146 kph) at a coastal monitoring station while Laura was still offshore, and forecasters said even stronger winds were coming that could rip apart buildings, level trees and toss vehicles like toys.

Authorities implored coastal residents of Texas and Louisiana to evacuate, but not everyone did before howling winds began buffeting trees back and forth in an area that was devastated by Rita in 2005.

The storm grew nearly 87% in power in just 24 hours to a size the National Hurricane Center called “extremely dangerous.” Drawing energy from the warm Gulf of Mexico, the system was on track to arrive early Thursday during high tide as the most powerful hurricane to strike the U.S. so far this year.

“It looks like it’s in full beast mode, which is not what you want to see if you’re in its way,” University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said.

Hurricane-force winds extending 60 miles (95 kilometers) from the storm’s center neared the coast, forecasters said, and bands of heavy rain fell 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the beach in Lake Charles.

Late Wednesday, Laura was churning about 60 miles (95 kilometers) south of Lake Charles and moving north-northwest at 15 mph (24 kph).

Maximum sustained winds increased to 150 mph (241 kph) before nightfall, and forecasters said up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) of rain could fall. Forecasters issued a string of tornado warnings as the storm pushed on to land, but there were no immediate reports of damage. Thousands of homes and businesses were without power.

One major Louisiana highway already had standing water as Laura’s outer bands moved ashore with tropical storm-force winds. Thousands of sandbags lined roadways in tiny Lafitte, and winds picked up as shoppers earlier Wednesday rushed into a grocery store in low-lying Delcambre.

Trent Savoie, 31, said he was staying put. “With four kids and 100 farm animals, it’s just hard to move out,” he said.

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