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Hurricane Laura makes landfall in Louisiana as a Category 4

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Hurricane Laura made landfall in southwestern Louisiana about 30 miles east of the Texas border. It hit the coast as a Category 4, bringing a barrage of 150 mile per hour winds and a storm surge that forecasters said could be 20 feet deep. NBC News’ Priscilla Thompson reports from Shreveport, Louisiana. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2NGeIvi

Hurricane Laura, a major Category 4 storm, is set to hit near the Texas-Louisiana border on Thursday morning as local officials scramble to evacuate thousands of residents.

The storm’s rapid intensification shocked scientists and prompted forecasters to issue warnings of “unsurvivable storm surge” in Texas and Louisiana.

“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,” the National Hurricane Center said on Wednesday. “This surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline.”

Laura could bring storm surge of nearly 13 feet to the coastline as well as flash flooding and tornadoes on land. The surge will arrive ahead of Laura’s center late on Wednesday, so if people delay evacuating, the roads could already be flooded.

The storm battered the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Haiti over the weekend, knocking out power for more than 1 million people, collapsing some homes and killing at least 23 people.

“I’m running out of words. Hurricane Laura is now one of the fastest-intensifying storms in recorded history in the Gulf of Mexico,” climate scientist Eric Holthaus wrote in a tweet. “Laura now poses a catastrophic, potentially historic threat to coastal Louisiana.”

Rising ocean temperatures driven by climate change are leading to more intense and destructive hurricanes. As hurricanes such as Laura strengthen more rapidly in warmer waters, states have less time to prepare storm mitigation and evacuate people from dangerous areas.

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“One thing we’ve seen in particular — with Harvey in 2017, and Florence and Michael in 2018 and now with Laura — is very rapid intensification, wherein the storm strengthens from a tropical storm to major hurricane status in less than a day,” said climate scientist Michael Mann.

“Such rapid intensification happens over very warm waters like we’ve seen in the tropical Atlantic and Gulf in recent years, and right now large parts of the Gulf are bathtub-level hot,” Mann said.

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