Laura is a Category 4 hurricane: What that actually means

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TEXAS (CNN) — Hurricane Laura will soon hit the southwest Louisiana and upper Texas coasts.

Laura has intensified rapidly — with winds increasing by 65 mph in just 24 hours — and will make landfall as an extremely powerful, dangerous Category 4 hurricane.

Laura is now the most powerful August hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico since Katrina hit 15 years ago.

Places from Port Arthur, Texas, to Lake Charles, Louisiana, will take a 150 mph hurricane directly head-on.

This is what to expect from a Category 4 storm

“Catastrophic damage” will occur when a Category 4 comes ashore, says the National Hurricane Center. “Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted, and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.”

In addition to the winds, impacts include more than a foot of rainfall for some, isolated tornadoes for others, and as the NHC put it on Wednesday, an “unsurvivable storm surge” for many.

Mandatory evacuations have been issued for coastal residents in Laura’s path as a result of this dire storm surge scenario.

Louisiana and Texas are, of course, no stranger to hurricanes. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states that Louisiana has been directly hit by 54 hurricanes, 17 of these major, and Texas by 64 hurricanes, 19 of these major, since records began in the mid-19th century.

But not a single Category 4 or 5 has ever hit this part of the two states.

Hurricane Laura will change that when it comes ashore during the morning hours of Thursday.

It is sure to leave an indelible mark on the region.

The system will be for them what Hurricane Andrew was for Miami; what Hurricane Rita was for Houston; what Hurricane Katrina was for New Orleans.

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