Heavy rains and winds battered Louisiana this morning as a weakening Hurricane Laura roared northward, threatening to spread further damage well inland after slamming the Lake Charles area.
The historic Hurricane Laura made landfall early today in Cameron, about 45 miles south of Lake Charles, as a dangerous Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 150 mph.
“This is a time for all of us to be praying for the best, while we’re prepared for the worst. God bless you and your families,” Lousiana Gov. John Bel Edwards tweeted just before the storm made landfall, urging much of the state to stay off the road.
As the storm roared into Louisiana, a 133 mph gust and an 85 mph sustained wind were measured in Lake Charles. A 127 mph wind gust was measured at Calcasieu Pass, La., and a sustained wind of 93 mph was measured around 5 a.m. local time in Cameron on the backside of the storm.
In Lake Charles, which took a direct hit, skyscrapers were without glass, while pieces of sheet metal and roofing were seen throughout city streets.
In Cameron Parish, where Laura came ashore, officials said at least 150 people refused pleas to leave and planned to weather the storm in everything from elevated homes to recreational vehicles. The result could be deadly since forecasters said the parish could be completely covered by ocean water with an “unsurvivable” storm surge of up to 20 feet.
“It’s a very sad situation,” said Ashley Buller, assistant director of emergency preparedness. “We did everything we could to encourage them to leave.”
Officials said search missions and damage assessments would begin when conditions allow it.
More than 410,000 electric customers are without power in Texas and Louisiana.
Laura, now a Category 2 hurricane as of 7 a.m. eastern today, will continue to move north and weaken while still bringing the risk of strong winds, heavy rainfall, some storm surge, tornadoes, tree damage and power outages.
Rainfall totals of 5 to 10 inches, with isolated amounts of 15 inches, are possible over Central and Western Louisiana.
Parts of Arkansas will receive 3 to 7 inches, with isolated totals of up to 10 inches from the storm’s heavy rains.
Heavy rain is also possible from the mid-Mississippi valleys into the Ohio and Tennessee valleys and the central Appalachians late tomorrow into Saturday.
These areas could receive 2 to 4 inches of rainfall, with up to 6 inches in some spots.