Hurricane Laura is a Category 4 hurricane that will likely be the worst hurricane to hit Beaumont, Lafayette, and other Northwest gulf coast cities in over a century. Coastal restaurants from Texas to Mississippi are closed.
Residents in areas with evacuation warnings should evacuate immediately, even if they have not finished shuttering and barricading. Evacuation traffic is a severe and potentially life-threatening concern.
All restaurants in evacuation areas should be closed and focused on leaving safely and following official guidance. Wind and water levels are already swelling along the Gulf Coast as Laura’s dangerous storm surge approaches.
Although this article’s language might sound alarmist, it reflects official warnings from the National Hurricane Center.
At 5 p.m., the Center said that Hurricane Laura is the second-highest rank on its Saffir-Simpson wind scale and its winds of 145 miles per hour are just 10 miles per hour shy of becoming a Category 5.
Laura will pummel Louisiana and Texas coasts with up to a 20-foot storm surge, extreme winds, flash floods, and possible tornado spawns.
Also at 5 p.m., the Center warned unequivocally that an “unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage.” It further warned, “this surge could penetrate up to 40 miles inland from the immediate coastline, and flood waters will not fully recede for several days after the storm.”
At 6 p.m., the Center said that sustained tropical-storm-force winds and heavy rains are beginning to spread onshore in central Louisiana.
Nicole Fantiny, the manager Starfish Restaurant along the barrier island of Grand Isle, south of New Orleans, could see an exodus of people driving off the island.
Hurricane-force winds will hit tonight and continue all day tommorrow. Laura may cause $15 billion in insured losses.
Over 80% of gulf oil production and one third of the region’s refining capacity is offline in preparation for the storm.
Space photograph showing an aerial view of Hurricane Laura as of Wednesday afternoon courtesy of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration