AUSTIN (KXAN) — Editor’s Note: This story is no longer being updated.
Hurricane Laura made landfall in Louisiana early Thursday morning as a Category 4 storm.
KXAN will continue updating this story. You can find useful links and resources below.
4:20 p.m. Thursday
The Associated Press reports that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said officials now know of four deaths tied to the storm. The deaths were all caused by trees falling on residences, Edwards said.
After surveying damage in parts of east Texas Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott said it could’ve been a lot worse.
“We dodged a bullet,” Abbott said in a press conference with other state and local officials.
The governor flew over Orange, Texas, the state’s easternmost city.
1:02 p.m. Thursday
A second person has died because of Hurricane Laura in Louisiana, the Associated Press reports. A local sheriff in Iota, Louisiana, says a 68-year-old man died when a tree fell on his home in Acadia Parish.
12:44 p.m. Thursday
Laura has weakened to a tropical storm with winds of 70 mph.
12:07 p.m. Thursday
Gov. Greg Abbott flew over parts of east Texas to survey damage after Hurricane Laura swept through parts. He is expected to provide an update at 12:30 p.m. in Orange, Texas.
12 p.m. Thursday
According to the Associated Press, Hurricane Laura weakened to a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph). The storm was 65 miles (105 kilometers) southeast of Shreveport and moving north. Damaging winds extended outward as far as 175 miles (280 kilometers), according to the hurricane center.
10:40 a.m. Thursday
Austin-area Texas Department of Transportation crews are headed to Beaumont, Texas, to help with storm cleanup.
Seventeen maintenance crew members will work to clear debris and repair damaged stoplights and signs.
9:55 a.m. Thursday
San Marcos hotels were at full capacity of available rooms Wednesday night, according to Rebecca Ybarra-Ramirez, Director of Destination Services.
“Due to the devasting effects the crisis has had on our travel industry, several hotels are not fully staffed; therefore could not open their hotels to the pre-crisis full capacity,” she said.
9:15 a.m. Thursday
The Circuit of the Americas is still open and operating, the city of Austin said in a release. There is limited space available to shelter evacuees, and people should check in at the reception center at 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd.
Currently, The City of Austin, Travis County, Williamson County, and Hays County are in communication with the State of Texas and coastal counties to assess damage to communities along the coast. An update about returning evacuees to their home communities will be provided later today. At this time, it is critical that evacuees do not leave their shelters without first registering their entire family with hotel staff, government or a Red Cross official.
Evacuees should text “ATXShelter” to 888-777 to get updates about sheltering in the Austin area.
The Capital Area Shelter Hub has provided housing for about 3,000 evacuees in more than 1,000 hotel rooms and the Austin Convention Center.
8:45 a.m. Thursday
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards reports the first person to die because of Hurricane Laura was a 14-year-old girl after a tree fell on her home.
8 a.m. Thursday
KXAN Meteorologist Kristen Currie shared some details about Hurricane Laura’s landfall and where the storm will head next:
- Hurricane Laura made landfall as a Category 4 storm with max winds of 150 mph near Cameron, Louisiana around 1 a.m. Thursday
- Laura (150 mph) was stronger than Harvey (130 mph), Ike (110 mph), Rita (115 mph) and Audrey (125 mph).
- Tied for strongest Louisiana landfall on record (last 150 mph hurricane hit in 1856)
- Lake Charles appears to have the most widespread damage — 132mph wind gusts reported at the local station.
- Tropical Storm Warnings stretch as far north as Little Rock, Arkansas, about 350 miles from the coast
- Laura will continue to move north through Louisiana and Arkansas Thursday. Heavy rainfall and hurricane-force winds will continue. Tornado watches are up for central Louisiana and southern Arkansas.
7:50 a.m. Thursday
KXAN crews in Vinton, Louisiana took pictures of damage near their hotel. The eye of the storm passed within 10 miles of that location.
7:05 a.m. Thursday
Hurricane Laura weakened to a Category 2 as it moved inland. That’s no longer a major hurricane but it still has extremely dangerous maximum sustained winds of 110 mph, the Associated Press reports.
David Yeomans spoke to KXAN’s Will DuPree and showed damage near Vinton, Louisiana.
Yeomans and Alex Caprariello also discussed their experiences riding out the storm.
5:47 a.m. Thursday
Entergy is reporting hundreds of people are without power Thursday morning along the Texas/Louisiana border near the coast. Many people in Beaumont, Texas are without power.
5:45 a.m. Thursday
Hurricane Laura severely damaged a gas station roof in Vinton, Louisiana. David Yeomans shows the area.
5:15 a.m. Thursday
David Yeomans is in Vinton, Louisiana, and showed KXAN’s Sally Hernandez and Tom Miller a hotel window that shattered during the storm after a fence hit it. He says the people in that room are OK.
Meanwhile, Alex Caprariello shared how people in Port Arthur prepared for the storm.
4:20 a.m. Thursday
Videos from overnight in Lake Charles, Louisiana shows strong winds blowing off parts of the roofs of buildings.
3:47 a.m. Thursday
Hurricane Laura’s winds are still going strong in Louisiana. Below is a view of just some of the damage in Lake Charles. Maximum sustained winds are 120 mph.
2:50 a.m. Thursday
2:39 a.m. Thursday
Hurricane Laura is still strong but it is weakening.
2:29 a.m. Thursday
There are currently over 210,000 power outages in the state of Louisiana.
In Galveston, residents seem to have dodged any real storms as winds are calmer. Waters have receded back to the Gulf of Mexico.
A view from Orange, Texas, meanwhile:
2:19 a.m. Thursday
The eye and eyewall of Hurricane Laura have curiously not broken up upon landfall and remain strong, likely due to swampiness of the area that’s allowing the hurricane to feed off the moisture.
TxDOT reports that Interstate 10 is closed at the Texas-Louisiana state line.
2:00 a.m. Thursday
Our crew shows us the storm waters coming through the roof of their hotel, as Laura’s inner eyewall hovers over Vinton, LA.
1:34 a.m. Thursday
KXAN’s David Yeomans reports from Vinton, LA, where our crews have taken cover in a hotel as the most intense of the inner eyewall moves over the area. Hotel guests have taken cover inside the hallways, away from windows. Our crews report significant roof leakage.
1 a.m. Thursday
Category 4 Hurricane Laura has made landfall in Cameron, Louisiana, NHC confirms. 110 mph wind gusts are reported in Lake Charles.
12:55 a.m. Thursday
12:50 a.m. Thursday
Category 4 Hurricane Laura should make landfall around 1 a.m. in the area of Cameron, Louisiana.
12:30 a.m. Thursday
12:20 a.m. Thursday
KXAN crews in Vinton, Louisiana, report stronger winds and power outages as Laura continues on its path.
12:17 a.m. Thursday
Intracoastal City, Louisiana, is already seeing significant storm surge.
12:01 a.m. Thursday
Winds in Lake Charles, Louisiana, are strengthening. The National Hurricane Center reports the northern eyewall of Laura is currently moving over Cameron Parish.
11:45 p.m. Wednesday
10 p.m. Wednesday
KXAN’s Chief forecaster reports hurricane hunters have found near-Category 5 winds, despite Laura still being a Category 4.
9:30 p.m. Wednesday
Hurricane Laura is now a Category 4 storm, with sustained winds of 140 mph. Hurricane warnings are in effect from Galveston to the Central Louisiana coast.
The hurricane may contain wind gusts to 185 mph and bring a storm surge of 20 feet into parts of the upper Texas coast and SW Louisiana when moving ashore overnight.
9 p.m. Wednesday
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development has closed Interstate 10 to travelers. Eastbound lanes are closed at the Texas-Louisiana border and westbound lanes are closed west of the Atchafalaya Basin.
The department says detours heading north to I-20 are in place. Drivers must use US-61, Interstate 55 and Interstate 59.
8 p.m. Wednesday
Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe signed a disaster declaration for Travis County Wednesday. As a result, the county’s emergency management plan has been activated for no longer than seven days, unless the declaration is renewed.
The declaration allows Travis County to activate more resources to protect those affected by Hurricane Laura.
The City of Austin also announced it has plans to open the Austin Convention Center as a traditional shelter for evacuees. It will be able to hold 135 shelter spaces, keeping with social distancing guidelines.
Surrounding counties pitched in to help Austin and Travis County accommodate evacuees. Hays County helped house Texas State and Lamar University students who evacuated.
Austin-area animal shelters also did their part to take in evacuated cats, dogs and baby squirrels from the coast.
5:10 p.m. Wednesday
Members of the Texas and Louisiana National Guard are prepared to help first responders in the wake of Hurricane Laura.
More than 1,000 members from Texas and 3,000 from Louisiana are ready to help on land, water and air, according to a release from the National Guard.
The Texas National Guard has over 1,000 members activated for hurricane response, with over 20 aviation assets to include UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-47 Chinook, C-130 airframes standing by. Over 15 shelter teams with emergency tracking capabilities are moving to receive those in need and the Texas Guard has mobilized 117 high profile vehicles to support rescue efforts in high-risk areas. C-130 crews have been busy moving supplies to areas of Southeast Texas in anticipation of the hurricane and the recovery efforts to follow.
Texas is prepared to operate in a COVID-19 environment by using 160 Guard members assigned to mobile testing teams to support interagency hurricane response.
5 p.m. Wednesday
Gov. Greg Abbott has suspended some commercial trucking regulations to prepare for response to Hurricane Laura.
“The suspensions include waiving certain size and weight permitting requirements, which will help expedite the delivery of food, water, equipment, medical supplies, and other resources to help communities impacted by the storm,” a press release said.
Three types of regulations are suspended, subject to federal law and DMV safety limitations:
– The oversize and overweight permitting requirements under Transportation Code, Chapters 621 through 623, as well as Title 43, Chapter 219 of the Texas Administrative Code, for all divisible and non-divisible vehicles and loads;
– The International Registration Plan (IRP) vehicle registration under Transportation Code § 502.091 and 43 Tex. Admin. Code § 217.56, as long as the vehicle is registered in one of the 48 contiguous states of the United States; and
– The 72-hour and 144-hour temporary registration permits under Transportation Code § 502.094 and 43 Tex. Admin. Code § 217.40(b)(3), as long as the vehicle is registered in one of the states of the United States.
3:55 p.m. Wednesday
KXAN’s Jim Spencer has noted Hurricane Laura’s path is “eerily similar” to Hurricane Rita in 2005. That storm had a devastating affect on Texas and Louisiana — and it made landfall as a Category 3. Laura is currently a Category 4 storm.
3:50 p.m. Wednesday
The Texas Attorney General’s Office has already received five complaints of price gouging as Hurricane Laura approaches.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office has the authority to investigate and prosecute price gouging during a declared disaster, which occurs when a business exorbitantly increases prices to profit on necessities, such as “fuel, food, medicine, lodging, building materials, construction tools, or another necessity,” according to the AG’s office.
1:15 p.m. Wednesday
Hurricane Laura strengthened to a Category 4 with sustained winds of 140 mph.
Gov. Greg Abbott urged those who have not yet evacuated to do so.
“If you do not get out of harms’ way, the reality is for almost a 24 hour time period there will be a limited ability for rescuers or aiders to assist you in any way,” Abbott said.
8:55 a.m. Wednesday
Laura continues to strength with eye become more well-defined. Landfall still expected overnight in southeast Texas / southwest Louisiana.
7:37 a.m. Wednesday
Hurricane Laura intensifies to Category 3 storm with sustained winds of 115 mph. Further intensification expected.
10:40 p.m. Tuesday
Most people in Crystal Beach, Texas, which is near Galveston, have taken evacuation orders seriously. KXAN spoke to residents that remember the wrath of Hurricane Ike in 2008 and do not want to be caught in what could be the cross hairs of Laura.
Evacuees coming to the Circuit of the Americas in Austin remember a different storm–Hurricane Harvey. They said they were thankful to Austin for taking them in.
The storm is expected to strengthen and could make a Texas landfall near the cities of Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange.
8:30 p.m. Tuesday
Governor Greg Abbott waived Houston-area tolls ahead of Laura, to help evacuees who are traveling inland. Abbott asked the Texas Department of Transportation to waive all tolls along the department’s portion of State Highway 99 starting at 7 p.m.
For evacuees that made their way to the Circuit of Americas Tuesday, flashbacks of Hurricane Harvey were hard to ignore even three years later.
5:40 p.m. Tuesday
The first buses of evacuees started arriving at the Circuit of the Americas, southeast of Austin, which will serve as a reception/processing center to direct evacuees to hotels/motels. The first bus to arrive has already departed for shelter.
In an update Tuesday afternoon, Governor Greg Abbott extended the disaster declaration to 59 Texas counties that could be impacted by Laura. Evacuation sites across the state are opening, including some in Austin and Central Texas.
The Circuit of the Americas race track facility was expected to open Tuesday afternoon.
Mandatory evacuations have been issued, including in places like Jasper, Jefferson, Newton and Orange counties. The City of Galveston and City of Port Arthur also have evacuation orders in place. Several other places have voluntary evacuations.
Local firefighters and first responders are also pitching in. Around 30 people from the Austin Fire Department and Austin-Travis County EMS are headed to the coast to help with Hurricane Laura.
Governor Greg Abbott announced teams from the Texas Army, Air National Guards, Military Department and Texas State Guard have gone to the Texas coast to help with efforts there.
Members of the teams have assigned locations throughout the state.