Tropical Storm Laura pounds Puerto Rico; Marco set to become a hurricane: What we know

August 23, 2020 by No Comments

There are now two tropical storms heading toward the Gulf of Mexico, and forecasters aren’t sure what will happen when they both get there.

Tropical Storm Marco formed Friday night over the northwestern Caribbean Sea, strengthened quickly and is now forecast to become a hurricane later Saturday or Sunday as it moves near the Yucatan Peninsula, joining Tropical Storm Laura which is currently dumping rain on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Both storms are expected to strike the U.S. at or near hurricane force next week, forecasters said. Marco’s path is heading toward Louisiana and Texas, while Laura’s path has moved away from Florida and toward Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. Two hurricanes have never appeared in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time, according to records going back to at least 1900, said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The last time two tropical storms were in the Gulf together was in 1959, he said.

The last time two storms to make landfall in the United States within 24 hours of each other was in 1933, Klotzbach said.

Both Laura and Marco are posing significant forecast challenges for the National Hurricane Center. Weather models varied widely on future intensities, with some forecast models predicting Laura striking the U.S. as a major hurricane nearing the U.S., while others see it dissipating. And how the storms will affect each other in the Gulf of Mexico remains a puzzle.

Tropical Storm Laura
The latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center says Laura was about 25 miles southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with 50 mph winds and moving west-northwest at 16 mph.

The storm strengthened Saturday and is forecast to reach hurricane strength early next week in the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall Wednesday somewhere between Florida’s Panhandle and western Louisiana with 75 mph winds.

Laura dumped rain across Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands Saturday morning and was expected to drench Hispaniola Saturday evening, then approach or cross over eastern Cuba Sunday and Monday. Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency and warned that flooding could be worse than what Tropical Storm Isaias unleashed three weeks ago because the ground is now saturated.

“No one should be out on the streets,” she said.

Tropical storm-force winds are extended outward up to 140 miles from Laura’s center, the NHC said.

Locations under a Tropical Storm Warning include Puerto Rico. Locations under a Tropical Storm Watch include the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to Key West and the Dry Tortugas and Florida Bay.

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