By Heather Sells
Hurricane Laura is barreling towards the US even stronger than previously expected. Forecasters say it’s reached Category 3 status, and as it churns over the Gulf of Mexico it’s now expected to strike as a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane, aimed squarely at the Texas and Louisiana coastline.
Early Wednesday, satellite images showed that Laura has rapidly intensified. “There are no signs it will stop soon,” said the National Hurricane Center.
“Some areas, when they wake up Thursday morning, they’re not going to believe what happened,” said senior hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart.
Maximum sustained winds from Laura have already reached 110 miles per hour and forecasters expect a storm surge that could top 15 feet and winds to top 130 miles per hour before landfall.
Laura will push water onto more than 450 miles of coastline from Texas to Mississippi. Authorities have issued hurricane warnings from San Luis Pass, Texas to Intracoastal, Louisiana and storm surge warnings from Port Arthur, Texas to the mouth of the Mississippi River.
The weather service is warning people to expect catastrophic damage. “Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months,” it said.
Authorities have ordered more than half a million people to flee, including residents of the Texas cities of Beaumont, Galveston, and Port Arthur, and low-lying parishes in southwestern Louisiana.
CBN News contributor Chuck Holton is waiting out the storm in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He told CBN News’ Efrem Graham this morning that he expects conditions to change dramatically overnight.
“Right now where I’m standing on the shore of Lake Charles is ground zero for this storm as the track shows right now, so that by this time tomorrow, where I’m standing, could be maybe under 14 feet of water.”
Operation Blessing is staging supplies in Bristol, Tennessee, ready to roll as soon as Laura hits and people need help.
Stay tuned to the CBN News Channel YouTube page for the very latest information. Live reports from Chuck Holton are planned throughout — be sure to subscribe and hit the notification bell so you don’t miss an update.