Flood waters from a supercell supercell event in the Gulf of Mexico have caused widespread damage in Texas and New Orleans, and prompted evacuations, officials said on Friday.
The supercell was a mass of hundreds of thunderstorms, usually a precursor to a hurricane, moving at up to 40 miles per hour (64 km per hour) over land.
It is the most powerful storm to hit the United States in nearly 50 years, causing the deaths of more than 1,400 people.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said the storm could be a threat to the region for days to come.
“This is the largest supercell storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, with sustained winds of more then 110 miles per inch (220 km/h) with gusts of 120 mph (209 km/l),” NHC forecaster Ryan Maue said.
“We anticipate the storm will continue to move northward over the next day or two with gusty winds, and that will likely bring a significant storm surge.”
A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said it could be possible to see a “significant increase” in storm surge in the next few days, possibly as high as 12 feet (3 meters) inland.
The storm has been making landfall near Houston and New York, and is expected to make landfall near Louisiana, which sits about 200 miles (322 km) north-east of the Texas Gulf coast.
The city of New Orleans has been bracing for the worst.
The hurricane was the fourth supercell in a row to hit Texas, the fourth to strike Louisiana, and the second to hit Louisiana, where it was reported by NHC on Thursday.
The Texas Gulf Coast was battered by the supercell last week, when a massive storm surge inundated the Texas city of Galveston.
In New Orleans on Thursday, hundreds of people were stranded as the waters rose to more than 10 feet (4 meters) above the levees in the city’s downtown area, according to the Associated Press.
More than 4,300 people have been evacuated from the city of 100,000 people, the mayor said, according the Associated Statesman newspaper.
A second storm has also been reported over the Gulf Coast, but it was less severe, the AP reported.
In Houston, a new record of 10 feet above sea level was broken as a result of the superstorm.
The surge of water from the storm hit the city with a force of 10.6 inches (29.6 centimeters), according to NHC, which recorded the event.
The region has seen heavy rains and flooding in recent days, with record flooding and record-breaking hail in Houston alone.
The NHC said on Thursday that the supercells’ intensity was “unprecedented” and that there was a risk of a repeat.
“The storm system is rapidly intensifying and there is a significant risk that a repeat of this event will occur in the future,” it said.
The weather service warned that “a number of areas” were at risk of flooding, including areas of Houston and other Texas cities.
The National Weather Service said that the storm had maximum sustained winds and gusts approaching 100 mph (185 km/hr).
It was also moving northward, with gust speeds of up to 140 mph (230 km/kph).
The storm surge was expected to reach up to 14 feet (5 meters) from its center, with some areas likely to be flooded by the storm.
A major storm surge warning has been issued for the area.
More to come.(AFP)