Laura is now a tropical storm, bringing sustained winds of up to 65 mph to the area just south of Louisiana’s border with Arkansas. But forecasters warn that the storm remains a dire threat, due to flood-inducing rainfall and other perils.
The former hurricane is now moving north at 15 mph – maintaining the same motion it has taken for much of Thursday, since making landfall in southwest Louisiana with intense winds and a large storm surge.
About 600,000 electrical customers are currently out of power, Gov. John Bel Edwards said in an update at 2 p.m. ET.
Laura was so huge, Edwards said, that nearly his entire state has experienced tropical-storm conditions in the past 24 hours. As of early Thursday afternoon, Laura’s tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles from its center, the National Hurricane Center says.
Even as Laura passes through northern Louisiana, a storm surge warning remains in effect at the coast from Sabine Pass, Texas, along the border to Port Fourchon, La., south of New Orleans. Parts of the state is also under a tornado alert.
As NHC Director Ken Graham noted earlier Thursday, Laura’s rain bands are still swirling in from the coast of Corpus Christi, Texas — drawing water from the Gulf of Mexico to fuel rains, and pushing coastal water levels even higher in some areas.
“That moisture will continue to stream in to these same areas with time,” Graham said, “so portions of Louisiana, East Texas, and eventually all this moisture continuing to move north, even into Arkansas.”
“On the forecast track, the center of Laura is forecast to move over Arkansas tonight, the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday, and the mid-Atlantic states on Saturday,” the NHC says.