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Hurricane Laura

Hurricane Laura leaves damage in Louisiana and weakens into tropical depression – CNBC

Hurricane Laura, after unleashing extensive damage in Louisiana, is now moving eastward as a tropical depression through Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama as forecasters warn of more dangerous weather over the weekend.

The hurricane left property damage, a hazardous chemical fire and at least six people dead in Louisiana on Thursday before moving north later in the night through Arkansas. Though the extent of the storm’s destruction is not clear, Louisiana and Texas officials signaled that the damage is less catastrophic than anticipated.

Packing 150 mph wind, Laura was the most powerful hurricane to strike Louisiana, surpassing even Katrina, a Category 3 storm that devastated the state in 2005. 

The day before Laura tore through Louisiana, authorities issued dire warnings that prompted more than a half-million people to evacuate in both states. 

Despite Laura hitting the land with such force, its forecast storm surge — expected to be “unsurvivable” at up to 20 feet high — ended up being about half as high in Louisiana. Forecasters said this was due in part to the storm moving quickly. 

“It is clear that we did not sustain and suffer the absolute catastrophic damage that we thought was likely based on the forecast that we had last night,” Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said Thursday afternoon. “But we have sustained a tremendous amount of damage. We have thousands and thousands of our fellow citizens whose lives are upside down.”

New tornado warnings were issued for Mississippi and Arkansas. Forecasters warned that Laura could reenergize and threaten several Northeast states by Saturday.

Areas in Louisiana and Texas are estimated to have suffered $8 billion to $12 billion in insured losses from Laura’s surge and high wind, but with residential and commercial property damages less than $500 million. The storm’s center struck more sparsely populated areas in the states, according to global property data and analytics provider CoreLogic.

“There is never a good place for a hurricane to make landfall. But this was the best possible outcome because it spared the major population centers of Houston and New Orleans,” said Curtis McDonald, CoreLogic meteorologist and senior product manager. 

President Donald Trump plans to visit the Gulf Coast over the weekend to tour the destruction.

Damage is seen from Hurricane Laura August 27, 2020 in Grand Lake, Louisiana. Hurricane Laura came ashore bringing rain and high winds to the southeast region of the state, reaching wind speeds of 150 mph and a 9-12 feet storm surge.

Eric Thayer | Getty Images

The environmental damage 

Hurricanes are becoming more frequent and destructive because of climate change, and the storm drew fresh attention to the dozens of petrochemical plants and hazardous sites in Louisiana that were in Laura’s path. It renewed fears about the potential for environmental damage and stoked health concerns. 

Laura moved through major industrial areas in Louisiana and Texas, including the Lake Charles area, which has major chemical plants, and Port Authur Texas, home to North America’s largest oil refinery.

The fire at the chemical plant BioLab, which manufactures chemicals used in household cleaners and chlorine for pools, released chlorine gas into the air on Thursday and prompted the governor to order people to shelter in place and turn off air conditioning. The fire was extinguished Thursday night. 

In the U.S., people who live the closest to major industrial zones that threaten to release toxic chemicals during storms tend to be poor and communities of color. 

“A climate-fueled storm causes a chemical plant fire which spews more emissions which fuels more climate change,” climate journalist Emily Atkin said in a tweet about the plant fire. “Our environmental crises fuel each other.”

When Hurricane Harvey struck Texas and Louisiana in 2017, it caused catastrophic flooding that inundated chemical plants and oil refineries and released deadly carcinogens into Houston neighborhoods. Now, some communities in Houston have experienced higher levels of childhood leukemia because of the higher concentration of chemicals in the air. 

Laura was the seventh named storm to hit the U.S. this year, setting a record for U.S. landfalls before the end of August. The Atlantic hurricane season, on track to be the worst ever in part because of warmer ocean waters, is not over.

The season, which officially runs until the end of November, is expected to bring nine to 25 named storms to the U.S., with seven to 11 of those storms developing into hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

An abandoned car sits in standing after Hurricane Laura made landfall along the Texas-Louisiana border near Lake Charles, Louisiana on August 27, 2020.

Callaghan OHare | The Washington Post via Getty Images

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Hurricane Laura

Hurricane Laura strikes Louisiana as Category 4 storm, battering Lake Charles area and bringing flood threat – The Washington Post

The storm, which leaped from a Category 1 hurricane on Tuesday to a high-end Category 4 on Wednesday night, packed 150 mph peak winds when it crossed the coast. The storm weakened and was downgraded to a Category 2 hurricane Thursday morning as it headed northward, but it still had sustained winds of more than 100 mph.

Heavy rain was predicted to be widespread across the west-central Gulf Coast with five to 10 inches falling over a broad area, and locally up to 18 inches, leading to flash flooding.

The latest developments:

  • Lake Charles, La., had issued mandatory evacuations on Wednesday. There was major damage to buildings in the city’s downtown area, which endured the brunt of the storm’s eyewall.
  • The National Weather Service issued an “extreme wind warning” from Beaumont and Port Arthur in Texas to coastal southwest Louisiana for destructive hurricane-force winds. Cameron, La., clocked a wind gust to 116 mph, while Lake Charles, La. recorded a gust to 132 mph.
  • Laura’s rate of intensification between Tuesday and Wednesday tied for the fastest on record in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The Hurricane Center said storm surge inundation could be “unsurvivable,” affecting areas up 40 miles inland from the coast in southwest Louisiana and that floodwaters may not fully recede for several days after the storm. As of 5 a.m., a surge over 9 feet had been observed in parts of coastal southwest Louisiana.

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Category Laura

Category 3 Laura to hit Texas, Louisiana as major hurricane as hundreds of thousands evacuate – USA TODAY

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Hurricane Laura is expected to make landfall in southwestern Louisiana as a major hurricane.

Accuweather

PORT ARTHUR, Texas — Hurricane Laura is expected to be an “extremely powerful Category 4 hurricane” with “unsurvivable storm surge” when it reaches the Gulf Coast on Wednesday night and early Thursday, the hurricane center said in its 10 a.m. CDT update. 

Laura, which grew to a Category 3 storm early Wednesday, is forecast to bring “potentially catastrophic” storm surge, fierce winds and flash flooding to eastern Texas and Louisiana, the National Hurricane Center said.

More than half a million people were ordered to evacuate as the storm approached, including the Texas cities of Beaumont, Galveston and Port Arthur.

The storm has already intensified a “remarkable” amount in the past 24 hours, the storm center says.

Laura is growing in size, too. “Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 70 miles from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles,” forecasters said.

The storm, moving northwest at 16 mph, was last spotted 225 miles south-southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 235 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas, as of 10 a.m. CDT Wednesday. Wind speeds had increased to up to 125 mph, which is a Category 3 major hurricane. It’s the first major hurricane of the 2020 season. 

“We are expecting widespread power outages, trees down. Homes and businesses will be damaged,” said Donald Jones, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Lake Charles, Louisiana.

“I’m telling you, this is going to be a very serious situation,” Jones said.

‘Rapid intensification’: Why Laura could be so dangerous

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The hurricane center says parts of the coast from Sea Rim State Park in Texas to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, could see waters rise as much as 20 feet due to “the combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide.”

Storm surge could reach as far as 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline, the hurricane center added. “Actions to protect life and property should be rushed to completion as water levels will begin to rise later today.”

Port Arthur, Texas, was mostly boarded up and deserted Tuesday evening, as residents fled from the low-lying region.

“If you decide to stay, you’re staying on your own,” Port Arthur Mayor Thurman Bartie said. 

Emergency officials with Jefferson County, which includes Port Arthur, staged a number of “hubs” to collect residents and transport them to other areas around Texas, rather than shelter them there, said Allison Getz, a county spokeswoman. A key reason for doing it that way was concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, which makes it hard to shelter large groups of people in one place, she said. Only 15 to 20 people will be placed on buses, instead of the usual 50, she said. 

“This is not just a flood like we’ve experienced in the past,” Getz said. “It has a wind component that really could be deadly.” 

At the Robert A. “Bob” Bowers Civic Center, 14 tour buses lined up to ferry away residents who couldn’t evacuate themselves, many of them elderly or handicapped. Robert Bailey, 68, has lived in Port Arthur since he was 9 and has stayed for every storm that’s hit the area – until now. 

“This is a double whammy,” he said as he boarded a bus headed for Huntsville, Texas, with friend Louise Green. “We don’t know what it’s going to be like.”

Flying? Change your Gulf Coast flight without a fee

How to prepare:  Response guide for any emergency situation

Not everyone was leaving. Simike Babineaux, 38, filled sandbags at a pavilion in downtown Port Arthur as her two kids, Hayden, 8, and Haleigh, 7, happily climbed the mounds of sand. Babineaux said she would like to get out of Port Arthur but was afraid of exposing her children to the coronavirus during evacuation. 

“It’s stressful,” she said. “You want to go but you don’t want to go because you might get (the virus). So, we’re probably going to ride it out.”

The hurricane is threatening 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. Nearly 300 platforms have been evacuated.

After Laura makes landfall, the storm is expected to weaken rapidly as it makes its way north then turns northeast.

The storm is also expected to bring as much as 15 inches of rain in some isolated pockets in Louisiana and Texas. A few tornadoes could also be seen in Louisiana, far southeast Texas, and southwestern Mississippi, the hurricane center says.

The most recent major hurricane to make landfall in Texas was Harvey in 2017, with 130 mph maximum winds, said Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach. In Louisiana, it was Rita in 2005, with 115 mph maximum winds.

The Atlantic hurricane season has been a record-breaker. Laura is the earliest L-named storm in the Atlantic Basin, breaking a record held by Luis, which formed Aug. 29, 1995. This season has had 13 named storms, which is well above-normal activity. 

Rick Jervis reported from Port Arthur, Texas. Contributing: The Associated Press

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Laura Ingraham reveals how Michael Flynn was ‘targeted by Jim Comey’s FBI’ – Fox News

Laura Ingraham opened “The Ingraham Angle” Wednesday by reporting that much of the coverage of the “unmasking” controversy surrounding then-national security adviser designate Michael Flynn in the final days of the Obama administration had missed a key detail.

“We now know that 39 Obama aides submitted dozens of unmasking requests for calls that involved Flynn,” Ingraham began. “The first was made by [then-Ambassador to the United Nations] Samantha Power on November 30, 2016, with the bulk being made between December 14 and 16 of that year.

“Yet what everyone missed was that there was no unmasking request made for the call that set the criminal case against Flynn in motion: his December 28, 2016, call with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak.”

WATTERS, WILLIAMS SPAR OVER SUSAN RICE EMAIL REVELATIONS

Ingraham explained that “a high-ranking source with direct knowledge of the situation” had informed her that it was the FBI, not any agency or office within the intelligence community, that was monitoring the call.

“When the FBI circulated the report [on the call], they included Flynn’s name from the beginning because it was essential to understanding its significance,” she said. “There were, therefore, no requests, we can conclude, for that unmasking about information.”

Ingraham noted that it is possible that other figures in the Obama administration had access to the call transcript as a potential “second ‘insurance policy’ against the new administration.”

“Or maybe they thought it could be weaponized if Flynn was asked about it later, a few days later, and lied,” she added. “We are bound to find out more.”

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“Now, I’ve seen many in the NeverTrump World scoff at any suggestion that there was anything improper in these flurry of unmasking requests,” Ingraham concluded. “Yet I think it’s wrong to focus on the unmasking itself, which is legal. For years, the Deep State lackeys like [former Director of National Intelligence James] Clapper and [former CIA Director John] Brennan claimed Flynn’s call was scooped up incidentally, as if it happened almost just by accident.”

On the contrary, Ingraham stated Wednesday, it has become even more clear that Flynn was not “swept up” by an tangential investigation but was instead “targeted.”

“And specifically, he was targeted by Jim Comey’s FBI,” she said.

“Again, Flynn had every right to talk to the Russian ambassador. He had every right to discuss any aspect of policy and any suggestions that the Logan Act was somehow a legitimate concern of the Obama people is just preposterous.”

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