The storm made landfall near Cameron, La., just east of the Texas border at around 1 a.m.

By Alison Fox
Updated August 27, 2020
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ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

Hurricane Laura descended upon the U.S. Thursday morning as a high-end Category 4 hurricane with punishing winds and storm surges, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The powerful storm made landfall near Cameron, La., just east of the Texas border at around 1 a.m. local time, with winds of 150 mph according to the National Hurricane Center, bringing an “unsurvivable storm surge” along a large stretch of coastline with waters not expected to recede for days. 

The damage was swift with winds blowing out windows in a tall building in Lake Charles, La., and pushing a floating casino into a bridge, The Associated Press reported.

Nearly 470,000 homes and businesses lost power between Texas and Louisiana and while more than 580,000 people were ordered to evacuate, about 50 to 150 people in Cameron Parish chose not to.

Within a few hours, the storm had started to weaken, but was still ravishing the south with maximum sustained winds near 100 mph with even higher gusts and hurricane-force winds extending up to 60 miles out, the NHC noted. Later in the day, Laura was expected to become a tropical storm as it moved further inland across western and northern Louisiana and eventually over Arkansas on Thursday night. 

On Friday, Laura is expected to cross into the mid-Mississippi Valley before heading to the mid-Atlantic states on Saturday.

Heavy rainfall has also been predicted through Friday on the northwestern Gulf Coast from western Louisiana to far eastern Texas and large parts of Arkansas, according to the NHC.

ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

A car drives under an ominous rain cloud from tropical storm Marco as locals prepare for the arrival of hurricane Laura near Lake Charles, Louisiana. But Hurricane Laura ended up tracking east, largely sparing the busy Houston metro area the worst-case scenario.

Several major airlines issued travel waivers ahead of the storm, including Delta Air Lines, which capped fares and instructed nine airports along the Gulf Coast to offer travel flexibility. United Airlines waived change fees and fare differences for flights from nine area airports with an original travel date of Aug. 26 or Aug. 27, JetBlue did the same for flights to and from Houston and New Orleans, and Southwest warned flights could be disrupted through Aug. 27 to and from New Orleans and Houston.

Hurricane Laura first formed as a tropical depression in the Atlantic last Wednesday before strengthening to a tropical storm on Friday. It is the earliest Atlantic storm with an “L” name on record, according to The Weather Channel

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she’s not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.