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Hurricane Laura Hit Louisiana With Extreme Winds And Storm Surge

Laura is the strongest storm to hit Louisiana in more than 160 years.

Last updated on August 27, 2020, at 11:08 p.m. ET

Posted on August 23, 2020, at 10:53 a.m. ET

A woman walks down the wreckage of a street hit hard by Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Andrew Caballero-reynolds / Getty Images

A woman walks down a street filled with debris after the passing of Hurricane Laura in Lake Charles, Louisiana on August 27, 2020.

Note: The maps below are no longer being updated.

Hurricane Laura made landfall in the southwest corner of Louisiana at around 1 am local time on Thursday as a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of around 150 mph. It is the strongest storm to hit Louisiana since the Last Island Hurricane of 1856.

Initial reports indicated extensive wind damage in Lake Charles, Louisiana, including high-rise buildings with many of their windows blown out. There was also a major storm surge, in excess of 10 feet in some places, that was still ongoing as of daybreak. However, this seems to have fallen short of the “unsurvivable” surge with highs of up to 20 feet that the National Hurricane Center had predicted on Wednesday.

“Right now I believe we got a break on the storm surge — about half of what was projected,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told CNN on Thursday morning.

By Thursday morning, the governor’s office confirmed the state’s first death, a 14-year-old girl who died after a tree fell on her home. The office stated that more fatalities are expected to be reported.

Laura was the earliest L-named storm recorded in the Atlantic basin. The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is currently on track to rival 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, as the busiest on record.

Laura weakened to a tropical storm by Thursday afternoon. You can track the latest forecasts with the maps below.

Forecast track and wind probabilities

Times shown are US Central Time. Peter Aldhous / BuzzFeed News / Via NOAA/NWS

This updating map shows the best predicted track and forecast winds from the storm. Use the control at the top right to toggle between the likelihood of tropical-storm-force winds (more than 39 mph) and hurricane-force winds (more than 74 mph).

Forecast track and rain in the next 7 days

Peter Aldhous / BuzzFeed News / Via NOAA/NWS

This updating map shows the best predicted track Laura superimposed over forecast rain for the next seven days.

“This rainfall will cause widespread flash and urban flooding, small streams and creeks to overflow their banks, and minor to moderate freshwater river flooding,” the NHC warned on Thursday morning.

On Sunday, meteorologists feared that the Gulf Coast could receive an unusual one-two punch from successive hurricanes. Tropical Storm Marco, which passed between Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and Cuba on Saturday, had been expected to make landfall as a hurricane. But it weakened rapidly before making landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River on Monday.

See the National Hurricane Center’s advisories for more information.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.