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The strongest hurricane in years nears the Gulf Coast

TUCSON - As of 8 p.m. Tucson time, extremely dangerous hurricane Laura is mere hours from unleashing its fury near the Texas and Louisiana border. Laura is the strongest hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico since Katrina back in 2005.

Top winds with Laura are 150 mph and it's located 75 miles south of Lake Charles, LA.

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Laura is a category 4 hurricane on the Saffir Simpson scale. The only category stronger is a 5.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Doppler-Laura.png The intensity of Laura shows little evidence of weakening as it remains over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Laura will weaken rapidly after it begins to move over land, but destructive winds will spread well inland, more than 100 miles, along its path.

The key messages below are credited to the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

Key Messages:

1. Unsurvivable storm surge with large and destructive waves will cause catastrophic damage from Sea Rim State Park, Texas, to Intracoastal City, Louisiana, including Calcasieu and Sabine Lakes. This surge could penetrate up to 40 miles inland from the immediate coastline, and flood waters will not fully recede for several days after the storm.

2. Hurricane-force winds are expected tonight in portions of the hurricane warning area, with catastrophic wind damage expected where Laura's eyewall moves onshore. Hurricane-force winds and widespread damaging wind gusts will spread well inland into portions of extreme eastern Texas and western Louisiana early Thursday.

3. Widespread flash flooding along small streams, urban areas, and roadways is expected to begin overnight tonight into Thursday from far eastern Texas into Louisiana and Arkansas. This will also lead to minor to moderate freshwater river flooding. The heavy rainfall threat and flash and urban flooding potential will spread northeastward into the middle-Mississippi, lower Ohio, and Tennessee Valleys Friday night and Saturday.

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Matt Brode

Chief Meteorologist Matt Brode has been affiliated with News 4 Tucson since 2006. He holds his AMS seal of approval and is a proud graduate of The University of Arizona with a degree in Atmospheric Sciences. He is happily married to his wife Ana Maria and proud father to David and Alexa.

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