Laura weakens to tropical depression

VIDEO: Aftermath of Hurricane Laura

Hurricane Laura made landfall just before 2 a.m. EDT Thursday near Cameron, Louisiana, as an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, according to officials with the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center. By 1 p.m. EDT, the storm had been downgraded to a tropical storm and later Thursday to a tropical depression, according to the NHC.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Thursday confirmed that at least four people have died as a result of Hurricane Laura, including a 14-year-old near Leesville, a 60-year-old in Acadia Parish and two others in Jackson and Vernon parishes.

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Here are the latest updates:

Update 2 a.m. EDT Aug. 28: Live updates on this storm system have concluded.

Update 10:54 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: Laura was downgraded to a tropical depression as it continued to caused flooding threats as it moved through Arkansas. In its 11 p.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said the center of the storm was located 30 miles north-northeast of Little Rock, Arkansas. The storm had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph as it moved north-northeast at 15 mph.

Update 8:10 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: Laura continued to weaken and was a minimum tropical storm as it moved through Arkansas. In its 8 p.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said Laura had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph as it moved north-northeast at 15 mph.

The center of the storm was located 35 miles south of Little Rock, Arkansas. It continued to dump heavy rains in Arkansas, creating flood warnings in the southern and central parts of the state. The storm’s center is expected to move through Arkansas, then into the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday. The storm is expected to reach the mid-Atlantic states on Saturday before entering the Atlantic Ocean on Sunday.

The National Hurricane Center will issue its next advisory at 11 p.m. EDT.

Update 5:12 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: Tropical Storm Laura weakened further Thursday afternoon but continued to dump rains and cause heavy winds as the storm spread into Arkansas.

In its 5 p.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said Laura had maximum sustained winds and was located about 130 miles south-southwest of Little Rock, Arkansas, moving north-northeast at 15 mph.

More than 600,000 homes and businesses in Louisiana were without power, The Advocate reported. A riverboat casino boat was jostled loose and got wedged under the Lake Charles bridge on Interstate 10, the newspaper reported. The highway will require inspections before the highway reopens.

Among the problems is a riverboat casino that was jostled loose and got wedged under the Lake Charles bridge on Interstate 10, requiring inspections before the interstate reopens. Plus, more than 600,000 homes and businesses without power.

Update 3:15 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: President Donald Trump told reporters Thursday that he plans to tour areas damaged by Hurricane Laura over the weekend.

“We’ll be going Saturday or Sunday,” he said during a meeting at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to White House pool reports.

Update 3 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said at a news conference Thursday that although the effects of Hurricane Laura weren’t as devastating as predicted, the state still “sustained a tremendous amount of damage.”

“We have thousands and thousands of our fellow citizens whose lives are upside-down because of businesses and/or their homes have been damaged,” Edwards said. “We have a lot of work to do, but we’re in better shape today than might have been the case, and so we have a lot to be thankful for as well.”

He said officials were doing everything possible to get under control a fire reported earlier in the day at the BioLab chemical manufacturing facility in Westlake but cautioned residents to continue to shelter in place and refrain from using air conditioner system in the meantime.

Four people have died in Louisiana as a result of trees felled by Hurricane Laura, Edwards said.

Update 2:30 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: At a news conference Thursday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards confirmed that four people have died after trees fell on homes in Vernon, Jackson and Acadia parishes, USA Today reported.

Gov. Edwards Gives an Update on Hurricane Laura

Gov. Edwards Gives an Update on Hurricane Laura

Posted by Governor John Bel Edwards on Thursday, August 27, 2020

Update 2 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: Tropical Storm Laura continued to weaken Thursday with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph by 2 p.m., according to the NHC.

The storm, which was about 65 miles east-northeast of Shreveport, Louisiana, on Thursday afternoon, is expected to weaken further throughout the day and become a tropical depression by Thursday night.

Laura is expected to move over Arkansas later in the day on a path toward the mid-Atlantic states, officials said.

Update 1:25 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: Laura was downgraded Thursday afternoon from a hurricane to a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, according to the NHC.

Laura was about 50 miles east-southeast of Shreveport, Louisiana, as of 1 p.m., officials said.

Update 1:10 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: Louisiana State Troopers confirmed Thursday that they are working to contain a chlorine leak from a chemical manufacturing facility near Lake Charles, a city hard-hit by Hurricane Laura.

Officials said the leak was reported at a BioLab facility in Westlake.

“Residents in the area are being advised to shelter in place,” police said in a statement posted on social media. “Citizens should not be engaging in unnecessary travel at this time.”

**Troop D (Southwest Louisiana) Traffic Advisory** UPDATE: August 28, 2020 @ 6:00 a.m. Westlake - Interstate 10 east...

Posted by Louisiana State Police on Thursday, August 27, 2020

Earlier Thursday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned of a chemical fire in the Westlake/Moss Bluff/Sulphur area and advised residents to keep their windows and doors closed.

Update 12:50 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: More than 743,000 people have lost electricity in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas as Hurricane Laura continued its northward path over Louisiana, according to PowerOutage.us.

Worst hit was Louisiana, where more than 592,000 utility customers were without power Thursday afternoon. Utility company officials earlier warned that the areas hardest-hit by Laura could be dealing with outages for weeks.

Update 12:30 p.m. EDT Aug. 27: The death toll in Louisiana from Hurricane Laura rose Thursday afternoon to three, according to CNN.

Mike Steele, a spokesman for Louisiana’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, told CNN that a 60-year-old man died in Acadia Parish when a tree fell onto the home he was in. Steele said another man, whose age was not released, also died in Jackson Parish, according to CNN.

Earlier Thursday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told news stations that a 14-year-old girl died when a tree felled by Hurricane Laura fell on her home.

Update 11:25 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: The Louisiana National Guard has been deployed to help clear roadways and assess damage left in Lake Charles by the passage of Hurricane Laura.

Update 11:05 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned residents to remain indoors on Thursday as Hurricane Laura swept over the state.

“Now is not the time to go sightseeing,” Edwards said. “The threat (Laura) poses to Louisiana is far from over. Stay home, continue to heed warnings from local officials and monitor your local news to stay informed.”

Hurricane Laura was a Category 1 storm Thursday morning as it spun over northwestern Louisiana en route to Arkansas, according to the NHC.

Update 11 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: The center of Hurricane Laura was about 55 miles southeast of Shreveport, Louisiana, on Thursday morning and slowly moving toward Arkansas, according to the NHC.

The storm weakened slightly, with maximum sustained winds measured at 75 mph.

The storm is hitting during Arkansas students’ first week back at public school since March. Many schools in the southern half of the state opted to cancel classes Thursday or dismiss early because of the storm.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson declared an emergency and set aside $250,000 for the state to prepare for the hurricane’s impact. Hutchinson said the state will have search and rescue teams on standby.

Update 10:20 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: Hurricane Laura has weakened to become a Category 1 storm with maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, according to information released by the NHC.

Forecasters warned in a 9 a.m. CDT update that “damaging winds and flooding rainfall (are) spreading inland over western and central Louisiana.” Officials added that “life-threatening storm surge continues along much of the Louisiana coast line.”

Update 10:10 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards confirmed the state’s first death connected with Hurricane Laura to MSNBC on Thursday morning.

“We know that we have at least one fatality now in Louisiana,” Edwards said.

The governor said a 14-year-old girl in the Leesville area died after a tree fell onto her home.

“I suspect that won’t be the last (fatality), although I pray that we don’t have anymore,” he said.

Update 9:40 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: President Donald Trump plans to visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency on Thursday to be briefed on Hurricane Laura, CNN reported, citing White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany.

The president is “closely monitoring Hurricane Laura” and has spoken with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, McEnany said in a statement posted on social media.

“The President encourages all in the storm’s path to listen to the safety guidance of state and local officials,” McEnany said.

Update 9:15 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: Hundreds of thousands of people have lost power across Louisiana and Texas on Thursday as Hurricane Laura brought powerful winds, heavy rainfall and flooding to parts of the Gulf Coast.

More than 566,000 people were without power as of 9:15 a.m., according to PowerOutage.us.

Officials with New Orleans-based power company Entergy said Wednesday that people in the areas hardest-hit by Laura could experience outages for weeks.

“This is a serious weather event and has the potential to cause significant and widespread damage, including to our electrical system,” John Hawkins, vice president of distribution operations for Entergy in Louisiana, said Wednesday in a news release.

“During these times, the safety of the public and our employees is paramount. We will begin restoring power as soon as it is safe to do so, but customers should be prepared for extended outages and factor that into their personal plans.”

Workers from 20 states have been called in to help the utility company as it works to restore power in Louisiana.

Update 8:08 a.m. EDT: Aug. 27: Hurricane Laura remains a Category 2 storm, but maximum sustained winds have decreased to 100 mph.

Damaging winds and flooding rainfall are spreading inland over western and central Louisiana as the storm continues to move north at 15 mph.

At 8 a.m. EDT Laura was located 20 miles north of Fort Polk, Louisiana, and life-threatening storm surge continues across most of the state’s coast.The storm is forecast to weaken rapidly and is currently located 30 miles north-northwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 50 miles northeast of Port Arthur, Texas.

Laura, which is still moving north at 15 mph, is expected to become a tropical storm later in the day. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from Laura’s center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.

The hurricane warning from High Island to Intracoastal City has been replaced with a tropical storm warning.

Update 6:31 a.m. EDT: Aug 27: The National Weather Service downgraded Hurricane Laura to a Category 2 storm just before 6 a.m. EDT Thursday after maximum sustained winds decreased to 110 mph.

Update 5:05 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: The National Weather Service downgraded Hurricane Laura to a Category 3 storm just before 5 a.m. EDT Thursday after maximum sustained winds decreased to 120 mph.

The storm is forecast to weaken rapidly and is currently located 30 miles north-northwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 50 miles northeast of Port Arthur, Texas.

Laura, which is still moving north at 15 mph, is expected to become a tropical storm later in the day. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from Laura’s center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.

Both the storm surge warning west of High Island, Texas, and the tropical storm warning for San Luis Pass to High Island have been discontinued. The Hurricane Watch from east of Intracoastal City to west of Morgan City, Louisiana has been canceled.

Update 4:31 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: Hurricane Laura remained a Category 4 storm at 4 a.m. EDT with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph as it approached Sulphur, Louisiana. The storm is moving north at 15 mph.

Update 3:34 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: As Hurricane Laura plows across Lake Charles, Louisiana, calls for help from trapped residents have begun, and possible tornadoes have been spawned as far away as southwestern Mississippi.

Update 2:35 a.m. EDT: Hurricane Laura continues battering southern Louisiana with Lake Charles recording wind gusts of 128 mph.

Update 2:15 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: The “extremely dangerous” Category 4 Hurricane Laura made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, the National Weather Service National Hurricane Center reported.

At 2 a.m. EDT, the storm was moving north at 15 mph and located 30 miles south-southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 40 miles east of Port Arthur, Texas.

Catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding are currently sweeping portions of Louisiana.

The northern movement is expected to continue throughout the day Thursday, with a northeastward shift expected overnight and into Friday.

Laura is forecast to move inland across southwestern Louisiana Thursday morning and weaken rapidly before continuing north across the state through the afternoon. The center of the storm is expected to move over Arkansas Thursday night, over the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday and the mid-Atlantic states Saturday.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from Laura’s eye, and tropical-storm-force winds extend 205 miles.

The hurricane warning from High Island westward to San Luis Pass, Texas, has been replaced with a tropical storm warning. Meanwhile, the tropical storm warning southwest of San Luis Pass has been discontinued.

Update 1:47 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: Hurricane Laura pummeled Cameron, Louisiana, just before 2 a.m. EDT Thursday and took immediate aim at Lake Charles.

Update 1:20 a.m. EDT Aug. 27: Hurricane Laura’s eyewall moved along the southwestern Louisiana coast just before 1 a.m.

The catastrophic Category 4 storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, is expected to make landfall within minutes in Cameron, Louisiana.

Previous coverage: Hurricane Laura moved closer to the northwest Gulf coast with “catastrophic” storm surges, extreme winds and flash flooding expected late Wednesday and early Thursday.

In its 11 p.m. EDT advisory, the National Hurricane Center said Laura was still maintaining maximum sustained winds of 150 mph as it moved north-northwest at 15 mph. The first major hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic season was located about 75 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and 75 miles southeast of Port Arthur, Texas.

Tropical storm force winds were already beginning to be felt along the Texas coast near the Louisiana border.

The hurricane center said Laura is expected to make landfall along the southwest Louisiana coast “within the next few hours” and will move inland early Thursday. The storm is expected to take a turn to the north and then head northeast by Thursday night.

The National Hurricane Center will issue an intermediate advisory at 2 a.m. EDT Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.