Hurricane Laura raked Louisiana early Thursday, becoming one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the state, with a storm surge, flash floods and devastating winds that could inflict more than $15 billion in insured losses. The storm had fallen to Category 1 by 10 a.m. local time, with top winds of 75 mph.
It came ashore at 1 a.m. local time near Cameron, Louisiana, with maximum winds of 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour, matching a record set in 1856. Local officials said flooding was less than expected, while wind inflicted most of the damage. It killed at least two in Louisiana when trees fell on their homes: a 14-year-old girl and a man, according to the administration of Governor John Bel Edwards.
Laura extends an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season that still has three months to go. It will be the seventh system to hit the U.S., a record for this time of year, and the first major hurricane to hit the Gulf Coast since Michael in 2018.
The storm prompted mandatory evacuations in coastal areas, and targeted the heart of America’s energy industry, shutting more than 80% of Gulf oil production and a third of the region’s refining capacity. It scored a direct hit on plants that produce chemicals and liquefied natural gas. Laura had more power than Hurricane Harvey had when it made landfall in Texas in 2017.
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Once-Mighty Laura Barely a Hurricane (11 a.m. NY)
Laura’s top winds fell to 75 mph. It was 55 miles southeast of Shreveport, Louisiana, moving north at 16 mph.