Hurricane Laura has intensified as it was moving towards the US' Gulf of Mexico, according to the country's National Hurricane Center (NHC). Laura rapidly strengthened on Wednesday night and was expected to make landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border as an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane early Thursday morning, Xinhua news agency quoted the NMC as saying.
"Unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage" in some areas in Texas and Louisiana, the NHC said, adding that the surge could penetrate up to 48 km inland from the immediate coastline.
May Reach Category 5 Strength
Laura is expected to bring multiple life-threatening hazards to the Gulf Coast, said the NHC. "Efforts to protect life and property within the Storm Surge and Hurricane Warning areas should be rushed to completion before storm surge and tropical-storm-force winds arrive," it added. Some meteorologists believed that Laura might further strengthen to Category 5 before if it makes landfall.
It is "becoming increasing likely" that Laura could reach Category 5 strength before landfall, said Donald Jones, a meteorologist of the National Weather Service. Arkansas has declared an emergency and prepared funds and rescue teams for the hurricane.
Several Flights Cancelled
As of Tuesday morning, hurricane warnings were issued for parts of the northwestern Gulf Coast in Texas and Louisiana. Texas' Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo issued a voluntary evacuation effective immediately. Some refineries and liquefied natural gas terminals in Texas and Louisiana have shut down.
More than 60 percent of flights to and from Houston's largest airport was canceled on Wednesday. Heavy rainfall might arrive by Friday in some places of Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky.