Hurricane Laura has made landfall in southwestern Louisiana, east of the Texas border, as an “extremely dangerous” category four storm with 150mph winds.
Catastrophic storm surges and winds are expected as Laura – the most powerful hurricane to strike the US this year so far – rips towards the coastlines.
In just 24 hours the storm grew nearly 90% in power, prompting forecasters to warn even stronger winds were possible that could tear apart buildings, fell trees and toss vehicles like toys.
More than half a million people were ordered to leave their homes near the Texas-Louisiana state line, and around 100,000 households and businesses are without power in both states.
Tornado warnings have also been issued – with video and photos on social media showing torrential rain battering the street lights of Lake Charles, a city in southwest Louisiana, and areas covered with water closer to the coast.
“This is shaping up to be just a tremendous storm,” Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards told The Weather Channel.
A Category four hurricane can cause severe damage that may have lasting impacts for months in some places, and wide areas could be uninhabitable for weeks or months.