Laura became a Category 1 hurricane on Tuesday as it barreled toward the US where the storm is expected to strengthen into a Category 3 Hurricane, as anticipated landfall is near the Texas-Louisiana border on Wednesday.
Tropical Storm Laura strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane on Tuesday morning with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and stronger gusts, NBC reported.
As of Tuesday morning, Laura was barreling toward the US Gulf Coast, on a forecast track that currently puts the storm making landfall near the border of Texas and Louisiana. The eye of Hurricane Laura was roughly 620 miles southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The National Hurricane Center is projecting that Laura will continue to intensify and strengthen to a Category 3 when it makes landfall. The hurricane is expected to arrive either late Wednesday or in the early hours of Thursday morning. However, rain showers and strong winds could begin impacting the coasts of Louisiana and Texas on Wednesday afternoon.
Mandatory evacuations have been ordered for over 300,000 residents in Texas and Louisiana as Hurricane Laura approaches.
The City of Galveston ordered mandatory evacuations on Tuesday, ongoing throughout the day Tuesday and early Wednesday, KENS5 reported.
Evacuations were also ordered in Orange County and Port Arthur, Texas, which sits on the Louisiana border.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott preemptively declared a state disaster for 23 counties ahead of Marco and Laura, Weather reports.
In Louisiana, evacuation routes were established for those leaving Lafayette Parish, The Advertiser reports. On Sunday morning, evacuations were issued for Grand Isle and Jefferson Parish as the National Guard worked to shore up the Gulf side levee. Roughly 2,000 feet of the levee had been torn up by Tropical Storm Cristobal in early June, Weather reports.
Over the weekend, in advance of Laura and Marco, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, and President Donald Trump approved a federal state of emergency for Louisiana.
Whether Laura arrives as a category 1, 2 or 3, any of these scenarios has the potential of devastating damage.
Before the storm strikes make sure you have an emergency plan, and that everyone in your family has cellphones, keeping them fully charged at all times as the storm approaches.
A Category 3 hurricane is defined by maximum sustained winds between 111-130 miles per hour. Storm surges rise between 9-12 feet above normal. Older mobile homes will be destroyed and significant damage to new ones. Structural damage to homes, apartments in industrial buildings is expected. Electricity and water loss from days to weeks is likely.
A Category 2 hurricane is defined by maximum sustained winds between 96-110 mph. Flying debris brings a risk of death to people, pets and livestock. Older mobile homes will be destroyed, even some newer mobile homes could be ruined. Major roof damage of homes and buildings could occur. Trees will be uprooted. Power outages should be expected for days to weeks.
A Category 1 hurricane is defined by maximum sustained winds between 74-95 mph. Older mobile homes may be destroyed. Debris can strike people, livestock and pets. Some homes and buildings may experience damage. Protected glass windows will usually survive without damage. Short-term power interruptions could occur, Time reports.