Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles (95 km) from the center and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 205 miles (335 km).
The storm surge estimates are "staggering amounts, life-threatening amounts", NHC Director Ken Graham said.
Hurricane Laura could make a direct hit on Houston this week and hundreds of thousands of people living on the Gulf Coast should evacuate immediately, officials in Texas warned on Tuesday.
"This storm certainly can cause unprecedented devastation", Hidalgo said at a news conference.
Evacuation centers have been set up or will be set up in San Antonio at 254 Gimbler Road, at the Circuit of Americas in Austin, the Mesquite Reception Center in Dallas and the Knights of Columbus in Ennis, Texas.
A hurricane warning has been issued for portions of the Texas and Louisiana coastline, according to the National Hurricane Center. Some additional strengthening is possible this evening before Laura reaches the northwest Gulf coast overnight.More news: GDP growth contracts by 23.9% in Q1 due to Covid pandemic
The US National Hurricane Centre called for measures to protect life and property to be accelerated, warning of "potentially catastrophic damage" from the storm.
'There will be storm surge impact, there will be wind impact, there will be rain impact, ' the governor said.
At 4 p.m., the eye of Hurricane Laura was located near latitude 27.9 North, longitude 92.8 West. Laura is moving toward the northwest near 15 miles per hour (24 km/h).
Laura's potential path and rapid intensification bears closer resemblance to Hurricane Rita in September 2005, the last time a major hurricane made landfall in Louisiana.
"Please take extra precautions to pack up your home and family and finalize your plans", the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office told residents. He urged people to heed evacuation orders and to leave. Voluntary evacuations are in place for Chambers and Brazoria Counties, Bolivar Peninsula and the cities of Nassau Bay, Seabrook, Hitchcock and Kemah, plus Zones A and B in Harris County.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters Monday that the third anniversary of the devastating Hurricane Harvey is approaching this week.More news: North Korea's Kim says Typhoon Bavi caused little damage -KCNA
As they contend with the storm, emergency agencies and evacuation facilities will be restricted by capacity limits and other concerns brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Associated Press contributors include John L. Mone in Port Arthur, Texas; Gerald Herbert in Lake Arthur, Louisiana; Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas; Seth Borenstein in Kensington, Maryland; Juan A. Lozano in Houston; Jake Bleiberg in Dallas; Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Alabama; Jill Bleed in Little Rock, Arkansas; Julie Walker in NY and Sophia Tulp in Atlanta.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday pleaded with residents to take the hurricane seriously. "We're basically going to be blind for this week", Edwards said, referring to the lack of testing.
More than half a million people were ordered to evacuate the Gulf Coast Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. In this graphic, the magenta and pink areas reflect storm surge alerts.
Analysts forecast USA crude stockpiles fell for a fifth week in a row last week, according to a Reuters poll conducted ahead of reports from the American Petroleum Institute (API) at 4:30 p.m. (2030 GMT) on Tuesday and the government on Wednesday. Montgomery County is now under a Tropical Storm Watch. Some isolated areas will see as much as 12 inches.
"Whatever happens, happens. We're going to roll with the punches", said Captain Brad Boudreaux, who operates a fishing guide service in Hackberry, Louisiana, near the Texas border.
Over the weekend, Laura's remnants are predicted to spread rains into the middle-Mississippi, lower OH and Tennessee valleys.More news: Outspoken Indian lawyer Bhushan fined one rupee for tweets