LAURA IN LAKE CHARLES: Damage was huge in Lake Charles, La., blasting out most of the windows in the city’s tallest building, home to a bank.

Announcements are trickling in of government offices closing early today.


For example: Noon in Saline County. 1 p.m. for Little Rock city offices.

Some school districts in South Arkansas had previously announced closure today. The Central Arkansas Library System is also closing early. Rock Region Metro suspended service at 2:30 p.m.


Let us hope these fall into the “abundance of caution” category when all is done.

But the Weather Service has issued a “tropical storm warning” for Arkansas, which the office called “technically” a first for the state.


I’ve been watching Laura intently because its bullseye was my hometown, Lake Charles, 30 miles inland from the Gulf. Wind damage is enormous everywhere. But the storm surge fell well short of forecast, sparing the city the flooding that Rita brought. As yet, only a single death has been reported in Louisiana, in Vernon Parish, more than 50 miles north of Lake Charles, where a tree fell on a house and killed a 14-year-old girl. It’s an indication of why people to the north must be watchful.

UPDATE: Two more deaths in homes from fallen trees, one in Acadia Parish, about 50 miles east of Lake Charles, and one in Jackson Parish , about 58 miles south of Arkansas.