Laura continues to weaken, 6 deaths reported

Hurricane

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Laura continues to weaken rapidly, turning into a tropical depression as it moves over Arkansas.

The storm made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane early Thursday morning, but has continued to weaken.

The storm brought damaging winds and flooding rainfall spread inland, resulting in high water levels along portions of the Gulf Coast, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Widespread power outages and damage were also reported across the Louisiana and Texas.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said he received a report that a 14-year-old girl died when a tree fell on her home.  The Associated Press reports at least six people are dead in Louisiana following the storm.

At 11 p.m. EST, Laura had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, and was about 30 miles north-northeast of Little Rock, Arkansas.

The storm will move over mid-Mississippi Valley and the mid-Atlantic states this weekend.

Videos on social media showed heavy winds and rain battering a tall building in Lake Charles, Louisiana, blowing out windows and littering glass and debris into the air and onto the ground as Hurricane Laura moved over southwestern Louisiana.

The damage was observed in Lake Charles, which is about 45 miles (72 kilometers) north of where the storm made landfall in Cameron early Thursday.

Other videos from the area showed road signs bending, trees shaking violently and a large recreational vehicle being blown over.

A large chemical fire sent a dangerous cloud over Lake Charles, Louisiana, hours after the eye of Hurricane Laura passed directly over the city.

The National Hurricane Center warned of the following impacts from the storm:

Storm surge

The National Hurricane Center forecast “unsurvivable storm surge” and “large, destructive waves” from Sea Rim State Park in Texas to Intracoastal City in Louisiana ahead of the storm’s landfall Wednesday.

Af of Thursday’s 11 p.m. update, swells produced by Laura would continue to affect the U.S. Gulf
coast from the Florida Panhandle to Texas. These swells were likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.

Flood waters will not fully recede for several days after the storm.

“This is a life-threatening situation. Persons located within (areas under a Storm Surge Warning) should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions,” the NHC said. “Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials.”

Rainfall

The NHC says Laura is expected to produce rainfall totals of 3 to 6 inches across central and northern Arkansas.

Southern Louisiana and southern Mississippi could get 1 to 3 inches with isolated totals around 5 inches.

“This rainfall will continue to cause widespread flash and urban flooding, small streams and creeks to overflow their banks, and minor to moderate freshwater river flooding,” the NHC said.

Through Saturday, Laura is expected to produce 1 to 3 inches with isolated maximum amounts of 5 inches across portions of the Tennessee and Lower Ohio Valleys, the central and southern Appalachians, and the mid-Atlantic states.

Tornadoes

The NHC says tornadoes are possible Thursday and over parts of eastern Arkansas, western Tennessee, northern Mississippi.

The risk for some tornadoes is expected to redevelop Friday afternoon into the evening across parts of the mid-South and Tennessee Valley regions.

TRACKING THE TROPICS

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