Laura strengthens to Category 4 approaching Gulf Coast; storms possible for N.C.

Hurricane Laura track. NOAA graphic

Hurricane Laura rapidly strengthened into a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane Wednesday afternoon, with landfall expected overnight along the Gulf Coast between Louisiana and Texas.

As of 2:45 p.m., Laura had maximum sustained winds of 140 mph and was still strengthening approaching the coast. Landfall is expected late tonight into early Thursday morning.

Laura is expected to rapidly weaken over land late Thursday as it tracks northward, with rain expected across western North Carolina on Saturday. For the Outer Banks, Laura’s remnants are may bring increasing rain chances Saturday into early Sunday, the National Weather Service said. No other impacts are expected.

Laura’s threat along the Gulf Coast serves as a timely reminder to prepare for severe weather as the height of hurricane season gets underway. Learn more about preparing for severe weather at ReadyNC.org.

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Kari Pugh is digital director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, 94.5 WCMS and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach her at kpugh@jammediallc.com