Hurricane Laura makes landfall in the US

By Meg Wagner, Judson Jones, Mike Hayes, Jessie Yeung, Adam Renton and Amy Woodyatt, CNN

Updated 8:38 a.m. ET, August 27, 2020
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11:30 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Hurricane Laura is less than 50 miles away and will make landfall in a few hours

From CNN's Brandon Miller

This photo of Hurricane Laura was taken aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday, August 26.
This photo of Hurricane Laura was taken aboard the International Space Station on Wednesday, August 26. Chris Cassidy/NASA

Hurricane Laura is now closing in on the Northwest Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center’s updated advisory.

Here's the latest:

  • The storm remains a high-end Category 4 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph. 
  • The center of the storm is currently about 75 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, or about 45 miles from the Louisiana coastline.
  • Landfall should occur in the next three to four hours at its current speed (about 15 miles per hour) and trajectory.
  • Hurricane-force winds of 74 mph or greater extend up to 60 miles from the center, and are already starting to push on shore. Conditions in southwest Louisiana and far southeastern Texas will be deteriorating quickly in the next couple of hours. 
  • The hurricane's strength likely won't change before landfall, though it's expected to weaken rapidly after it moves inland.

Storm surge warnings, hurricane warnings and tropical storm warnings remain in place along the coast and inland, with the advisory warning, "This is a life-threatening situation."

"All preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion in the next few hours," the warning read.

11:14 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Texas and Louisiana are already reporting more than 13,000 power outages combined

From CNN’s Joe Sutton and Andy Rose

As the outer bands of Hurricane Laura start to impact both Louisiana and Texas, power outages have already begun. 

According to PowerOutage.US, there are over 13,000 customers without electricity in the states -- 8,912 in Texas and 4,115 in Louisiana.

Those numbers are expected to increase throughout the night and early morning.

11:02 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Customs and Border Protection sends air crews to Gulf Coast to prepare for hurricane aftermath

From CNN’s Andy Rose

US Customs and Border Protection sent helicopters to the Gulf Coast earlier today to prepare for a potential recovery effort after Hurricane Laura blows through.

“Air and Marine Operations teams are staging aircraft for resupply, damage assessment, and rescue missions,” the agency said in a press release.

Two Black Hawk helicopters capable of hoist rescues arrived in Louisiana alongside a fixed-wing plane, and the agency says more aircraft are on the way.

Incident commanders are now on the ground in Houston, Texas, and Hammond, Louisiana. Field Operations and Border Patrol agents have also been pre-deployed to provide relief.

10:51 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Hurricane Laura is nearly a Category 5 storm

Hurricane Laura is only seven miles per hour away from becoming a Category 5 storm -- and is already stronger than Hurricane Katrina, according to CNN meteorologist Tom Sater.

"It's now in the top 10 of the greatest hurricanes to ever make landfall in the continental US," Sater said. "This is going to really make an impact, and not just to the coastline, but well inland."

Sater warned the hurricane's winds -- measuring up to 150 miles per hour -- could destroy homes, buildings, hospitals, cut off power and damage businesses. Power outages could stretch from Houston all the way north through Little Rock, Arkansas, in the coming days.

Parts of the coast are already seeing storm surges of four feet, and that could increase to 15 or 20 feet when the storm makes landfall -- about as high as the top of a second-story building, Sater said.

Watch:

10:35 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

150 residents have refused to leave Cameron Parish, Louisiana, during mandatory evacuations

A Cameron Parish Sheriff's deputy waves at a roadblock on LA 27 as residents evacuate Cameron in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Wednesday, August 26, ahead of Hurricane Laura.
A Cameron Parish Sheriff's deputy waves at a roadblock on LA 27 as residents evacuate Cameron in Lake Charles, Louisiana on Wednesday, August 26, ahead of Hurricane Laura. Gerald Herbert/AP

In Cameron Parish, Louisiana, 150 residents have refused to leave during the mandatory evacuation order ahead of Hurricane Laura.

“Out of 6,500 residents, most got out,” said Ashley Buller, Assistant Director of Emergency Operations for the parish.  

“We have a lot of construction workers on (liquefied natural gas) LNG projects,” Buller added. Most of these workers aren't parish residents and live in travel trailers -- some evacuated, but others stayed in the trailers.

Parish sheriff deputies went door-to-door to encourage people to leave.

"(This is) the calm before the storm," Buller said. “We have never experienced anything like this in our history."

Hurricane Laura would be the third major storm to strike Cameron Parish in the last 15 years, after Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike. Water is the main concern: Hurricane Ike caused huge flooding, and parish officials are bracing for Hurricane Laura to be even worse.

10:20 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Billboards around Beaumont, Texas, cut to prepare for Hurricane Laura winds

From CNN's Amanda Jackson and Nicole Williams

On Wednesday, billboards around Beaumont, Texas, were punctured to prepare for the strong wind Hurricane Laura is expected to bring to the area. 

"I checked with our operations team, and they said that many of our billboard structures have what we call a hurricane frame, which is basically a panel-free frame," said Allie McAlpin, Communications Director of Lamar Advertising, whose team is conducting the hurricane preparations.

"When we are getting ready for a hurricane, we try to remove the vinyls first. As time runs out, we cut the vinyl (which is what you were seeing), so the wind can blow through the structure."

8:19 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Hurricane Laura now has maximum sustained winds of 150 mph

From CNN's Brandon Miller

Hurricane Laura is continuing to strengthen on Wednesday evening, as it approaches the Louisiana coastline with winds up to 150 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The storm is an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane and could see some additional strengthening before making landfall in the next six to eight hours.

If Laura reaches 157 mph or greater, it will be a Category 5 hurricane. A Category 5 hurricane has never hit the coast of Louisiana. 

Hear more:

8:22 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Here's a city-by-city timeline of Hurricane Laura

From CNN's Brandon Miller

CNN Weather
CNN Weather

Tropical storm-force-winds are beginning to push onshore in southern Louisiana and extreme southeastern Texas.

Heavy rainfall will also be beginning in coastal cities within the next couple of hours as conditions begin to rapidly deteriorate.

Landfall is still anticipated between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. ET. 

Here's the latest timeline for conditions in some key locations:

Beaumont and Port Arthur 

  • Tropical storm winds (39 mph+): 9 p.m. ET Wednesday to 9 a.m. ET Thursday
  • Hurricane force winds (75 mph+): 12 a.m. ET to 5 a.m. ET Thursday
  • Peak winds gusts: 110-120 mph
  • Total rainfall expected: 6 to 8 inches
  • Peak storm surge: 10-15 feet
  • High tide: 3 a.m. ET to 4 a.m. ET Thursday

Lake Charles, Louisiana 

  • Tropical storm winds (39 mph+): 9 p.m. ET Wednesday to 10 a.m. ET Thursday
  • Hurricane force winds (75 mph+): 12 a.m. ET to 7 a.m. ET Thursday (peak between 2 a.m. ET and 5 a.m. ET)
  • Peak winds gusts: 110-120+ mph
  • Total rainfall expected: 7-10 inches
  • Peak storm surge:15 to 20 feet
  • High tide: 6 a.m. ET Thursday

Galveston 

  • Tropical storm winds (39 mph+): 8 p.m. ET Wednesday to 4 a.m. ET Thursday
  • Hurricane force winds (75 mph+): Not expected – but peak winds between 11 p.m. ET and 2 a.m. ET
  • Peak winds gusts: 45-55 mph
  • Total rainfall expected: 1-3 inches
  • Peak storm surge: 2 to 4 feet
  • High tide: 2 a.m. ET to 3 a.m. ET Thursday  

Houston

  • Tropical storm winds (39 mph+): 8 p.m. ET Wednesday to 4 a.m. ET Thursday
  • Hurricane force winds (75 mph+): Not expected 
  • Peak winds gusts: 35-45 mph
  • Total rainfall expected: less than 2 inches
  • Peak storm surge: 3 to 5 feet (along coastal Harris/Galveston Bay)
  • High tide: 7 a.m. ET Thursday
7:47 p.m. ET, August 26, 2020

Hardin County, Texas, orders curfew ahead of Hurricane Laura

From CNN's Dave Alsup

Hardin County, Texas, Judge Wayne McDaniel ordered a curfew beginning tonight at 8 p.m. CT until 6 a.m. CT, ahead of Hurricane Laura, according to a Facebook post on the county emergency management page.