Hurricane Laura could make a direct hit on Houston this week and hundreds of thousands of people living on the Gulf Coast should evacuate immediately, Texas officials warns.
The National Hurricane Center forecasts a storm surge could send up to 4m of flood water as much as 50km inland along the coast near the Texas and Louisiana border.
Crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico has been paralysed as companies batten down operations. Output cuts are nearing 90 per cent, a level not seen since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Lina Hidalgo, the top executive for Harris County, which encompasses Houston, warned of deadly winds and a destructive storm surge after Laura made landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday.
She said that put millions of lives at risk as Laura moved westward and took aim at the fourth-biggest city in the United States.
The hurricane was packing winds of 130km/h as it moved across the Gulf of Mexico, qualifying it as a category one hurricane.
Laura was forecast to become a « major » hurricane of category three or higher by Wednesday night as it approaches the US coast, according to the NHC.
More than 420,000 Texas residents and another 200,000 people in neighbouring Louisiana were under mandatory evacuation orders on Tuesday.
Houston was pummelled in 2017 by Hurricane Harvey, which killed at least 68 people. Laura is forecast to dissipate quickly after landfall, with the greatest danger more from wind and storm surges than rain.
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