LOS ANGELES - LOS ANGELES - As Hurricane Laura continues to strengthen, stunning satellite imagery showed the Category 4 storm heading for destructive landfall near the Texas and Louisiana border. The images also showed plumes of smoke in the western United States from wildfires that continue to impact the region.
Video from NOAA’s satellite Instagram account showed hurricane clouds on Aug. 25 as taken from the GOES-West satellite.NOAA wrote on the post: “This #ImageOfTheDay from the GOES-West satellite, captured yesterday (Aug 25), shows not only the vast extent of the wildfire smoke in the west, but Marco’s remnants as well as Laura in the Gulf of Mexico.”
NASA Earth also posted an image on their Facebook page of the hurricane.
NASA Earth wrote, “The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on NOAA-20 acquired an image of Hurricane Laura at 2:20 a.m. Central Daylight Time on August 26, 2020. Clouds are shown in infrared using brightness temperature data, which is useful for distinguishing cooler cloud structures from the warmer surface below. That data is overlaid on composite imagery of city lights from NASA’s Black Marble dataset.”
The latest on Laura
As of the evening of August 26, Hurricane Laura was approaching landfall in Texas and Louisiana as a Category 4 storm.The storm grew nearly 70% in power in just 24 hours to a size the National Hurricane Center called “extremely dangerous.”
As of Wednesday evening, Hurricane Laura was a Category 4 storm, packing winds at 150 mph, which is just short of Category 5 strength (157+ mph).
Laura was spinning off the Louisiana coast and was about 90 miles south of Lake Charles, Louisiana. The storm was moving north-northwest at 15 mph and will continue to move toward the western side of Louisiana, right on the Texas and Louisiana border.
Outer rain bands from Laura were already sweeping into sections of Louisiana as the storm continued to churn in the gulf.
Meteorologists across the country said there are increasing signs that Hurricane Laura could reach Category 5 strength.
“That is possible,” Joel Cline, Tropical Program Coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. “It’s running out of time. It’s not far from land. But, it’s still growing.”
The main threats from Laura include heavy rain, dangerous storm surge, flooding, gusty winds and short-lived tornadoes.
A catastrophic storm surge will impact the region and a threat of flooding rain will extend well inland.
Cline said 15 to 20 feet of storm surge will be possible with Hurricane Laura.
“Those numbers are kind of surreal, ” Cline said. “So, if you lived in a two-story house, the water would be up to the roof.” Cline said a two-story house would not hold up in the expected conditions.
According to the National Hurricane Center, storm surge could move 40 miles inland from the coast in southwest Louisiana and southeast Texas.
Tropical storm wind conditions have already begun in hurricane warning areas, and hurricane force winds are expected Wednesday evening into Thursday.
Wildfires continue to burn
Wildfires continue to rage in California. Cal Fire crews said they have battled more than 625 new wildfires, which have now burned over 1.4 million acres throughout the state, according to KTVU San Francisco.
To put that into perspective, that's just about 1% of California's landmass, which equals about 1 million football fields, or 1,875 square miles.
According to FOX News, more than 14,000 firefighters continued to battle over two dozen major wildfires across northern California Monday, as the death toll statewide climbed to seven over the weekend.
At recent news conferences, California Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the active wildfires in the state and the amazing effort to protect homes and lives. "We're deploying every resource possible," Newsom said.
Cal Fire said there have been a total 13,000 lightning strikes, a cause of many of the wildfires burning in the state.
On Wednesday, Cal Fire said firefighters are continuing to make good progress on a number of fronts, as containment levels continue to increase.
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Cooler conditions are expected this week, which will hopefully aid in the fight of the fires.
"This week will be a profoundly important week," Newsom said.
Storyful contributed to this story.