Hurricane Laura prediction for Southwest Louisiana: ‘a wall of water 2 stories high coming ashore’

    ‘Life-threatening storm surge as far east as Morgan City’

    Marae Leblanc,9, carries Foxy Mittens, her cat, as she and her family along with other evacuees prepare to board a bus as they are evacuated by local and state government officials before the arrival of Hurricane Laura on August 26, 2020 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Hurricane Laura is expected to hit somewhere along the Gulf Coast late Wednesday and early Thursday. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

    Forecasters predict Hurricane Laura will reach Category 4 status shortly before it strikes Southwest Louisiana early Thursday.

    As of 1 p.m. Wednesday, Laura was in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico traveling toward the southwestern Louisiana coast at about 17 mph. The storm emerged as a Category 3 overnight and is expected to strike Cameron Parish early Thursday as a Category 4 with sustained winds of 145 mph and gusts of 170 mph, according to the National Weather Service.

    “I think the damage from this will be unfortunately devastating,” NWS Meteorologist Ben Schott said. “To think that there will be a wall of water 2 stories high coming ashore is very difficult to imagine.”

    Although the eye of the storm is expected to pass over Cameron Parish, Schott warned that other coastal communities and parts of South Louisiana will experience “life-threatening” storm surge, winds and flooding.

    “People in South Louisiana need to understand that the wind threat here is serious,” Schott said.

    Dangerous winds will extend as far as Alexandria, and “life-threatening storm surge” will extend as far east as Morgan City, he said.

    Gov. John Bel Edwards said Laura is expected to eclipse 2005’s Hurricane Rita in terms of strength. Rita was a Category 3 when it made landfall in Cameron Parish.

    “Our state hasn’t seen a storm like this in decades,” Edwards said.

    During his 11:30 a.m. press conference, the governor said residents who live in areas under evacuation should already be leaving. “Whether it’s mandatory or voluntary, we need you evacuating now,” he said.

    See the complete list of areas under evacuation orders in Louisiana.

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    Wesley Muller
    Wes Muller traces his journalism roots back to 1997 when, at age 13, he built and launched a hyper-local news website for his New Orleans neighborhood. In the following 22 years since then, he has worked as a journalist for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, the Sun Herald in Biloxi, WAFB-9News CBS in Baton Rouge, and the Enterprise-Journal in McComb, Mississippi. Much of his work has involved reporting on First Amendment issues and watchdog coverage of municipal and state government. He has received several honors and recognitions, including McClatchy's National President's Award, the Associated Press Freedom of Information Award, and the Daniel M. Phillips Freedom of Information Award from the Mississippi Press Association, among others. Muller is a New Orleans native, a Jesuit High School alumnus, a University of New Orleans alumnus, a veteran U.S. Army paratrooper, and an adjunct English teacher at Baton Rouge Community College. He lives in Ponchatoula, Louisiana, with his teenage son and his wife, who is also a journalist.