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Hurricane Laura Now A Category 4 With Projected Surge Of Up To 20 Feet; 30 Miles Inland

TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - Hurricane Laura is now a Category 4 hurricane, according to CBS 11 Meteorologist Scott Padgett.

The storm surge could reach up to 20 feet and travel 30 miles inland as the storm makes its way toward the Texas coastline.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, who is currently living and working on The International Space Station, tweeted images of the hurricane.

Wednesday afternoon Texas Governor Greg Abbott provided an update on the state's ongoing response to Hurricane Laura.

The Governor urged Texans in the path of the storm to evacuate if they have not already done so, and stressed the projected devastation of this storm. The press conference followed a briefing with the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), state agency directors, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

"For the areas in southeast Texas, that will be closest to the point where the hurricane will come across the shoreline, those people still have only about five hours to evacuate. There have been reports from local county judges, as well as other local officials, raising concern about the people in these regions where the hurricane may be coming across the shore… about the number of people who have not yet evacuated."

The National Weather Service/National Hurricane Center is stressing Laura's severity for those in her wake, tweeting: Unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage from Sea Rim State Park, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, including Calcasieu and Sabine Lakes. This surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline.

As it stands Laura is expected to make landfall around 1 a.m. Thursday and officials in Texas anticipate the storm leaving the state by Thursday night.

During the press conference Governor Abbott said rescue efforts will begin during the morning daylight hours, but that from about 7 p.m. Wednesday until 9 a.m. Thursday there will be no ability for rescuers to get in and assist residents in the storm path.The Governor noted that in addition to the pre-positioned resources announced yesterday, the State of Texas has deployed 400 buses, 38 aircraft, 82 boats, 202 high-profile vehicles, and 60 ambulances ahead of Hurricane Laura's landfall. Abbott stressed that power outages are likely, and urged Texans to avoid bringing generators into their homes due to the high risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. The Governor also announced that the counties of Camp, Ellis, and Tarrant have been added to his State Disaster Declaration and has requested that the federal government add these counties to the Presidential Disaster Declaration. Governor Abbott also discussed planned recovery efforts, and noted that TDEM Recovery personnel, damage assessment platforms, and volunteer organizations are already in place for deployment post-landfall.

While major rain and flooding is expected in a 'cone' area following the projected path of the storm, Abbott stressed that heavy winds will happen outside of that area.

"In this storm winds are going to the biggest threat. Tropical Storm winds are likely to occur as far north as Longview."

Tropical storm force winds will move into Jefferson and Orange counties around 7 p.m. Wednesday evening, and hurricane force winds are possible just after midnight. Rain bands will begin moving towards the Texas coast Wednesday afternoon and will move through East Texas after midnight into Thursday. East Texas is also projected to experience hurricane force winds as the storm travels north.

President Trump also addressed the dangerous storm via Twitter, saying his administration is prepared to help those in its path.

"Hurricane Laura is a very dangerous and rapidly intensifying hurricane. My Administration remains fully engaged with state & local emergency managers to continue preparing and assisting the great people Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Listen to local officials. We are with you!"

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