Hurricane Laura has escalated to Category 4 strength ahead of its destructive landfall near the Louisiana-Texas border Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As of noon Wednesday, Hurricane Laura is approximately 200 miles south-southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and is tracking to the northwest at 16 mph, The Weather Channel reported.
The Category 4 hurricane has reached wind speeds of 140 mph, with some slight additional strengthening possible later in the afternoon.
Residents along upper Texas and southwest Louisiana coasts have been warned to seek shelter immediately and prepare for a "major hurricane strike."
"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 NHC said in a statement. "This surge could penetrate up to 30 miles inland from the immediate coastline. Only a few hours remain to protect life and property and all actions should be rushed to completion."
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, parts of western Louisiana, eastern Texas, and much of Arkansas could experience as much as 10 inches of rainfall, with isolated amounts climbing closer to 15 inches.
In addition to heavy rains brought on by the Category 4 hurricane, parts of Louisiana, western Mississippi, and Arkansas could experience a few tornadoes on Thursday.