In a shocking development, the National Hurricane Centre has warned that the Hurricane Laura is rapidly intensifying into a "catastrophic" Category 4 hurricane. As the devastating hurricane is heading towards US Gulf Coast, evacuation orders have been issued.
The catastrophic Cat 4 hurricane means it endangers both life and property in its way. The National Hurricane Centre, in a briefing on Wednesday, said "there are no signs it will stop soon" after going through remarkable intensification. In the last 24 hours alone, Hurricane Laura has grown nearly 70 percent in power, with maximum wind speeds increasing up to 175kph (110mph) with higher gusts.
"We could see storm surge heights more than 15 feet in some areas," said Stacy Stewart, a senior hurricane specialist, according to AP. "What doesn't get blown down by the wind could easily get knocked down by the rising ocean waters pushing well inland."
There will also be widespread power outages, uprooted trees, and damage to homes and office buildings. The residents of Texas and Louisiana should expect the possibility of rapid intensification of Hurricane Laura before landfall.
This is serious
Category 4 hurricane will cause a lot of destruction. According to National Weather Service, power outages could last weeks or even months and most of the areas won't be habitable for several weeks. In preparation of the incoming hurricane, more than half a million people were asked to evacuate the Gulf Coast along the Texas-Louisiana state line on Tuesday.
Over 385,000 residents were told to flee the Texas cities of Beaumont, Galveston and Port Arthur, and 200,000 people were asked to evacuate low-lying Calcasieu Parish in southwestern Louisiana, areas where there will be the massive impact of the hurricane.
Just to give a perspective of the intensity of the damage, Hurricane Laura has killed at least 23 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Experts warn Cameron Parish will be completely underwater for a few days.
The devastation comes at a crucial time when the world is already battling the deadly COVID-19. The evacuation isn't going to be easy as people wouldn't want to be cramped up in small spaces with strangers and risk getting infected. But it has to be done, which is why people are advised to stay in hotels or with relatives until the hurricane passes.