Laura made landfall in Louisiana Thursday as a category 4 hurricane, US weather officials said.
“Extremely dangerous Category 4 Hurricane Laura makes landfall near Cameron Louisiana,” the National Hurricane Center said in an update at 1:00 am local time (0600 GMT).
“Catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds, and flash flooding occurring in portions of Louisiana,” the update said, adding maximum sustained winds were 240 kilometers per hour.
The hurricane has prompted warnings of “unsurvivable” storm surge and evacuation orders for hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast residents.
Laura earlier strengthened almost to Category 5, the highest on the Saffir-Simpson wind scale and defined as sustained winds of 157 miles per hour or higher.
Earlier, Texas Governor Greg Abbott warned that Laura’s power was “unprecedented” and urged citizens to “get out of harm’s way.”
“Your property can be replaced,” Abbott said. “Your life cannot be replaced.”
Vice President Mike Pence, speaking on the third night of the Republican convention, urged people in the storm’s path to “heed state and local authorities.”
“My prayers are with you tonight. Our administration is working closely with authorities in the states that will be impacted,” he said.
The Atlantic storm season, which runs through November, could be one of the busiest ever this year, with the NHC predicting as many as 25 named storms. Laura is the 12th so far.