Hours after landfall, Laura was still a Category 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 110 mph. Its center was past Lake Charles, moving north at about 15 mph, but with damaging winds that stretched over much of Louisiana and parts of eastern Texas, reaching as far as 175 miles from Laura’s center
“Some areas, when they wake up Thursday morning, they’re not going to believe what happened,” said Stacy Stewart, a senior hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center.
Laura also is expected to quickly dump massive rainfall as it moves inland, causing widespread flash flooding in states far from the coast. Flash flood watches were issued for much of Arkansas, and forecasters said heavy rainfall could move to parts of Missouri, Tennessee and Kentucky late Friday. Laura is so powerful that it’s expected to become a tropical storm again, menacing the northeastern United States, once it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.
The hurricane also threatens a center of the U.S. energy industry. The government said 84% of Gulf oil production and an estimated 61% of natural gas production were shut down, including Valero and Total refineries in Port Arthur, and Citgo’s plant in Lake Charles. Nearly 300 platforms have been evacuated. Consumers are unlikely to see big price hikes, however, because the pandemic has decimated demand for fuel.
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