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Hurricane Laura: 'Extremely dangerous' Category 4 storm hits Louisiana
27 August 2020, 08:31
An "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm has hit southwest Louisiana, according to forecasters who have implored anyone who hasn't evacuated to do so because their "life depends on it".
Hurricane Laura is the most powerful storm to reach the US this year, bringing maximum sustained winds of 150mph.
Making landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, on Wednesday night, the hurricane prompted fears among experts it could cause an "unsurvivable" surge that could sink entire communities along the coastline.
Senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said of residents waking up on Thursday morning: "They're not going to believe what happened.
"Whatever does not get blown down by the wind could easily be toppled by seawater pushing inland."
Hundreds of thousands of people have been evacuated from areas in the path of the storm in Louisiana and Texas - and authorities have implored anyone who is yet to leave to do so.
"Heed the advice of your local authorities," said Joel Cline, the tropical programme coordinator at the National Weather Service.
"If they tell you to go, go! Your life depends on it today. It's a serious day and you need to listen to them."
US President Donald Trump said his government was "fully engaged" with emergency teams at a state and localised level, and encouraged people to listen to the guidance.
He added: "We are with you!"
Hurricane Laura is a very dangerous and rapidly intensifying hurricane. My Administration remains fully engaged with state & local emergency managers to continue preparing and assisting the great people Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Listen to local officials. We are with you! pic.twitter.com/x0JoijLUpb— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 26, 2020
The storm's power is feared it could lead to months-long power outages across the parts of the US southwest, and could leave some areas uninhabitable for weeks.
With the country already struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, such disaster relief will pose an additional challenge to an already strained government.
For this #WednesdayMorning, take a look at #HurricaneLaura with @NOAA's #GOESEast satellite as the hurricane's convection bursts with lightning. As of 8 a.m. EDT, #Laura had winds of 115 mph and was rapidly intensifying in the Gulf of Mexico.— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) August 26, 2020
Latest: https://t.co/1L8q1zg4eW pic.twitter.com/yyxJkmlfnj
As the storm moves inland, it is expected to bring heavy rainfall and cause flash flooding in states a large distance from coastal areas.
It is then expected to become a tropical storm once reaching the Atlantic Ocean, potentially causing more damage in the north east.