More than half a million people in Texas and Louisiana have been urged to flee from their homes as Hurricane Laura, which forecasters have warned will bring “unsurvivable” storm surges to some areas, hurtles toward the U.S.

The Category 4 hurricane is on track to make landfall near the Texas-Louisiana border on Wednesday night into early Thursday. It’s expected to be the most powerful hurricane to hit the U.S. this year so far.

BREAKING: Laura is now a Category 4 hurricane with "unsurvivable storm surge" expected in some areas.Parts of eastern Texas and western Louisiana are forecast to see "catastrophic wind damage."

— ABC News (@ABC) August 26, 2020

A storm surge warning is in effect from Freeport, Texas, to the mouth of the Mississippi River in southeast Louisiana, The Weather Channel reported. Life-threatening surges of up to 20 feet could deluge some areas. Officials have pleaded with residents to evacuate immediately.

“Heed the advice of your local authorities. If they tell you to go, go! Your life depends on it today,” Joel Cline, tropical program coordinator at the National Weather Service, told The Associated Press. “It’s a serious day, and you need to listen to them.”

Destructive winds of 75 to more than 100 mph are expected in some areas, and heavy rains could inundate communities far inland over the next few days.

Views of Hurricane Laura taken from @Space_Station today. Stay safe everyone.

— Chris Cassidy (@Astro_SEAL) August 26, 2020

Some parts of Louisiana are expecting record flooding. The Calcasieu River, for example, which runs through the city of Lake Charles, is forecast to rise to 15.6 feet by Thursday morning. According to CNN, this would far outstrip the previous record of 13 feet, which was set in 1913.

Though the full effects of Laura can’t yet be known, Category 4 hurricanes are capable of causing extraordinary damage. As AP noted, hurricanes of that strength have been known to cause months-long power outages and render entire communities uninhabitable for weeks or even months.

Laura has killed at least 23 people to date — 20 in Haiti and three in the Dominican Republic.

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