Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Gov. Edwards Urges Louisianans To Hunker Down By Noon Wednesday Ahead Of Hurricane Laura Landfall

Paul Braun
Gov. John Bel Edwards briefs the media on preparations for Hurricane Laura, Aug. 25, 2020.

As Hurricane Laura bears down on the Louisiana coast, state officials expect the storm to strengthen to a Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds and up to 13 feet of storm surge on the western coast.

The storm is expected to make landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border around 1 a.m. Thursday, but Gov. John Bel Edwards warned that coastal communities could experience hurricane-force winds by early Wednesday afternoon.

“By about noon tomorrow, people in Louisiana need to be where they intend to ride this storm out and they need to be postured accordingly with their families,” Edwards said during his Tuesday evening press conference.

Mandatory evacuation orders have been issued for Calcasieu and Cameron parishes, which have some of the highest coronavirus infection rates in the state.

Edwards urged evacuees to drive their families to safety in their own cars if possible and to stay in hotel rooms or with relatives to avoid large congregate shelters where the virus could spread more easily.

Evacuation buses will be stocked with personal protective equipment and disinfectant.

Benjamin Schott, the top meteorologist for the National Weather Service in New Orleans, said tropical-storm-force winds could be felt as far east as Baton Rouge and as far west as Houston.

The storm is moving fast, which lessens the chance of one area getting inundated with drenching rains, but increases the likelihood of damaging winds farther inland.

“Hurricane for winds will probably make it in at least as far as Alexandria and maybe, as Gov. Edwards mentioned, close to Shreveport before it fully becomes a tropical storm and makes its way into Arkansas,” Schott said.

Edwards said the storm most closely resembles Hurricane Rita in both magnitude and area of impact. Fifteen years ago Rita devastated large swaths Southwest Louisiana and Southeast Texas just one month after Hurricane Katrina.

Paul Braun is WRKF's Capitol Access reporter.