LAKE CHARLES, La. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — After coming ashore as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center says a few hours later Laura had weakened to a Category 3 storm with top winds of 120 mph.
It’s centered about 30 miles north-northwest of Lake Charles and moving north at 15 mph. Hurricane-force winds and damaging wind gusts are spreading well inland into parts of eastern Texas and western Louisiana.
The hurricane center has updated its guidance on the ocean water pushed ashore, saying they expect unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage from Sea Rim State Park, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, including Calcasieu and Sabine Lakes.
Forecasters predict the highest surge, up to 20 feet, along a stretch of Louisiana coastline that includes Johnson Bayou and the towns of Holly Beach and Cameron.
Forecasters say this surge could penetrate up to 40 miles inland from the immediate coastline, and flood waters won’t fully recede for days.
Laura pounded the Gulf Coast for hours with ferocious wind, torrential rains and rising seawater as it roared ashore over southwestern Louisiana near the Texas border.
Videos on social media showed Laura’s winds battering a tall building in Lake Charles, blowing out windows as glass and debris flew to the ground.
With more than 290,000 homes and businesses without power in both Texas and Louisiana, near-constant lightning provided the only light for some.
Officials said any search and rescue missions and damage assessments would begin as soon as conditions allowed.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)