Tropical Depression Laura is moving through Arkansas with flooding, rainfall and winds of about 35 mph
Laura came ashore as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph Thursday morning before moving inland and weakening to a tropical storm early in the day and then a depression with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph as of 11 p.m. ET.
At that time, the storm was about 30 miles past Little Rock, moving north-northeast at about 15 mph, according to the National Weather Service. The threat of flooding was still present with heavy rainfall expected to continue in parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.
The storm is expected to continue through Arkansas overnight and into the mid-Mississippi Valley on Friday, forecasts show. It will hit the mid-Atlantic states on Saturday and continue over the western Atlantic on Sunday.
Tornadoes were possible from central and eastern Arkansas into Mississippi through Thursday evening, according to the weather service. At least one was reported in Walcott and another possible tornado spotted around Paragould.
Several areas were placed under tornado warnings, and there may be more tornadoes touching down Friday evening, meteorologists said.
Storm surges that rushed into parts of southwest Louisiana were smaller than expected, but the brunt of Hurricane Laura was its overwhelming winds.
Heavy damage has been reported in coastal parts of the state– where the storm surge, flash flooding and extreme winds battered Lake Charles and other communities. The surge came in between 9 and 12 feet, according to the governor – far less than the predicted 20 feet that forecasters warned would be “unsurvivable.”
Flooding remained a risk, with some areas still expected to have up to 18 inches in rainfall by Friday.
At least four people in the state were killed by trees blown down in the storm, according to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, in Jackson, Vernon and Acadia parishes. He warned that the death toll could rise as rescuers dig through the rubble.
Buildings across the region were torn apart, too.
Videos show windows blowing out of the Capitol One Tower in Lake Charles, La., and a riverboat casino drifted under the Lake Charles Bridge and Interstate 10 where it became stuck. Winds also tore the roof off another casino.
A boat storage facility lost the rooftops of its garages and many doors. The storm flattened an airplane hangar, although an aircraft appeared to be in one piece beneath the open roof.
hotographs of residential neighborhoods show widespread destruction. A brick house lost most of its roof, and aerial images showed exposed attic. Apartment buildings saw extensive damage, and trees and downed powerlines blocked roads.
Even with the lower storm surge, low-lying areas also experienced extensive flooding.
In Sulphur, La., a tractor-trailer overturned on the shoulder of a road was photographed after Laura passed through.
The storm also left an impression in Texas.
High waves dumped rocks on Highway 87 there, according to KHOU reporter Michelle Choi who shared a video of the scene on Twitter.
Interstate 10 reopened in Texas, but remained closed at the Louisiana state line as of Thursday evening, according to authorities.
Almost a million outages were reported in the storm’s wake, according to PowerOutage.us, which tracks blackouts across the country – nearly 600,000 in Louisiana, almost 250,000 in Texas, more than 50,000 in Arkansas and just over 10,000 in Mississippi.
Over 900k electric customers are without power due to #HurricaneLaura. With 588k out in #Louisiana and 248k out in #Texas. Check out https://t.co/8cAFt3zGJe for detailed #PowerOutage information. [2020-08-27 04:06PM CDT] pic.twitter.com/J0UUKynzri
— PowerOutage.us (@PowerOutage_us) August 27, 2020
The Associated Press contributed to this report.