UPDATE: Aug. 27, 2020: Laura made landfall around 1 a.m. Central Time Thursday as a strong Category 4 storm, reducing to Category 1 by mid-morning with maximum wind speeds around 75 miles per hour. High winds extended 60 miles from the center around Shreveport, Louisiana.
Sections of Interstate 10 closed overnight near the Texas-Lousiana border and have yet to reopen, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. As Laura moves north and east through the weekend, high winds are expected to continue along its path. The storm is expected to move across Arkansas to Tennessee and reach the Delmarva peninsula Saturday losing strength along the way. A storm surge warning at the coastal Texas-Louisiana border remains in effect and the ports of Houston and Galveston remain closed.
- Carriers and ports temporarily paused operations Wednesday as supply chains operating in the Gulf of Mexico braced for Hurricane Laura, a Category 4 storm as of Wednesday afternoon. Mandatory evacuations are restricting FedEx, UPS and U.S. Postal Service operations in dozens of zip codes across Texas and Louisiana where the storm is projected to make landfall early Thursday morning. In its service alert, FedEx recommended shippers contact the receivers of their shipments to make sure facilities are open and accessible.
- The storm moved east overnight Tuesday, leading forecasters to predict the city of Houston and its port would be spared major damage. "But still, some impacts are expected, and, again, we're already seeing those impacts as the port of Houston has shut down," said Mark Russo, SVP of Weather Operations at Riskpulse, Wednesday. Port Houston announced it would close Wednesday and Thursday, and the Port of Galveston closed Tuesday afternoon.
- Wind speeds within the storm have reached 140 miles per hour, and a storm surge warning is in effect from Freeport, Texas, to the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to the National Hurricane Center. The lowest-lying areas of Louisiana could receive up to 20 feet of flooding, the center said. East-west artery Interstate-10 remains a concern along with I-49, which runs north to Missouri from Lafayette, Louisiana.
"One of the good pieces of information here is the fact that it is making a direct landfall in an area of Texas and Louisiana that has about 600,000 people versus the Houston metro area — that is about 7 million people," said Jon Davis, chief meteorologist at Riskpulse, Wednesday morning. "Houston will be impacted, but the impact is not catastrophic in this overall situation coming up."
Laura's hardest hit area will be around the Texas-Louisiana border, said Russo. "That is where we expect likely some catastrophic damage via the wind, where the core of Laura ... makes landfall," he said.
The hurricane remains a quick-moving storm. So, stalling out over one area is unlikely — which keeps the maximum rain forecasts around 10 inches inland and 15 inches on the coast. Still, supply chain disruptions could last for days due to the damage potential of high winds and flooding in lanes that are important to agriculture and energy supply chains.
"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," the NHC's Wednesday afternoon alert stated.
Trucking spots rates started to jump in anticipation of the storm last week according to DAT. The van rate from Houston to New Orleans posted the largest rate jump of the top 100 van lanes last week.
"Rates have been rising as fast as the tech sector in the stock market before the double hurricane," said Charley Dehoney, CEO of Manning's Truck Brokerage. "Now, we’re seeing a huge rush to get supplies into the region and products picked up out of the region in advance of the storm. Industry rating tools are ill-equipped for situations like this. It truly is the Wild West right now," Dehoney said.
The FMCSA has issued an emergency declaration for Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas suspending HOS for carriers involved in relief work.