Hurricane Laura was a deadly and destructive Category 4 hurricane that tied with the 1856 Last Island hurricane as the strongest hurricane on record to make landfall in the U.S. state of Louisiana, as measured by maximum sustained winds. The twelfth named storm, fourth hurricane, and first major hurricane of the very active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, Laura originated from a large tropical wave that moved off the West African coast on August 16 and became a tropical depression on August 20. Laura intensified into a tropical storm a day later, becoming the earliest twelfth named storm on record in the North Atlantic basin, forming eight days earlier than 1995's Hurricane Luis.
Laura first hit the Lesser Antilles and brushed Puerto Rico as a tropical storm, then moved across the island of Hispaniola, killing 31 people in Haiti and four in the Dominican Republic. The storm then moved across the length of Cuba, prompting tropical storm warnings and the evacuation of more than 260,000 people there. Subsequently, the outer rainbands extended into the Florida Keys and South Florida. Laura then moved across the Gulf of Mexico, strengthening slowly at first, before a period of rapid intensification on August 26. That day, Laura became a major hurricane, and later attained peak 1-minute sustained winds of 150 mph (240 km/h), making it a Category 4 hurricane.
Early on August 27, Laura made landfall near peak intensity on Cameron, Louisiana. This was the tenth-strongest U.S. hurricane landfall by windspeed on record. The storm caused the deaths of at least 42 people in the U.S. and inflicted an estimated $14 billion in damages on southwestern Louisiana and southeastern Texas near the Gulf of Mexico. After landfall, Laura rapidly weakened as it moved inland, becoming a tropical storm later that day, and weakening further to a tropical depression over Arkansas the next day. On August 29, Laura degenerated into a remnant low over Kentucky, before being absorbed into another extratropical storm near the East Coast of the U.S. shortly afterward. Overall, Laura caused more than $14.1 billion in damage and 77 deaths. Areas that were affected by Laura, namely the Gulf Coast, were affected again six weeks later by Hurricane Delta.