A weakened Tropical Storm Marco made landfall on Monday night,Â one of two systems threateningÂ a historic one-two punch along the Gulf Coast.
Both storms are forecast to strengthen into hurricanes over the Gulf of Mexico in the coming days.
Tropical Storm Laura is forecast to become a hurricane Tuesday afterÂ rain from a weakening Marco soaked portions of the Gulf Coast on Monday.
Marco was downgraded to a tropical depression late Monday night after making landfall about 6 p.m.Â near the mouth of the Mississippi RiverÂ according to the National Hurricane Center. As of 11 p.m. EDT, Marco was traveling west at 9 mph with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.
Meanwhile, Laura is expected to reach hurricane status before it roars toward the northwestern Gulf Coast late Wednesday and Thursday. The storm is moving west-northwest at 20 mph at maximum sustained winds of 65 mph as of late Monday.
The National Hurricane Center issuedÂ storm surge, hurricane and tropical storm warnings late Monday for portions of the U.S.:Â San Luis Pass Texas to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and from Port Bolivar, Texas, to west of Morgan City, Louisiana.
For the residents of the Louisiana coast, âtheyâre certainly lucky that Marco is not worse than it is,â University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said Monday.Â âThis (Marco) will come and go, and they can get ready for Laura. Thatâll be the main attraction.â
Fifteen years and $15 billion after Katrina: New Orleans is more prepared for a major hurricane. For now.
National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Schott saidÂ Laura could make landfall as a Category 3 hurricane, which have winds of at least 111 mph. It would be the first Category 3 hurricane to strike Louisiana since Rita in 2005.
The National Hurricane Center said MondayÂ that « there is an increasing risk of dangerous storm surge, wind and rainfall impacts from the upper Texas coast to the north-central Gulf Coast beginning Wednesday » from Laura.
Rain bands from both storms could bring a combined total of 2 feet of rain to parts of Louisiana, potentially raising the storm surge to more than 10 feet along the coastline and pushing water 30 miles up the rivers in a worst-case scenario, Schott said.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told a news briefing Monday, âWeâre only going to dodge the bullet so many times. And the current forecast for Laura has it focused intently on Louisiana.â
Tropical Storm Laura hits Guayama, Puerto Rico, on Aug. 22. (Photo: RICARDO ARDUENGO, AFP via Getty Images)
State emergencies were declared in Louisiana and Mississippi, and shelters were opened with cots set farther apart, among other measures designed to curb coronavirus infections.
August Creppel, chief of the United Houma Nation, was concerned about the groupâs 17,000 members, spread out over six parishes along the Louisiana Gulf Coast.
âWe know our people are going to get hit,â he said. âWe just donât know who yet.â
Sarah Manowitz, responsible for four bars in New Orleans’Â French Quarter, made sureÂ windows wereÂ boarded up. She prepped her house and filled her tub with water. Manowitz isÂ remaining on site, counting on a âcommunity of peopleâ whoÂ lookÂ out for each other during storms.
Although the storm has weakened, « gusty winds, heavy rainfallÂ and lingering coastal flooding areÂ expected from Marco along portions of the Gulf Coast through this (Monday)Â evening, » the Hurricane Center said.Â
The systemÂ was downgraded to a tropical storm Sunday night. What’s left of the storm isÂ expected toÂ turn west and reach Texas as a tropical depression or remnant low-pressure area by late Tuesday.
Laura strengthened near eastern Cuba on Sunday nightÂ after killing at least 11 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
AÂ tropical storm warning was issued for portions of the Florida Keys as Laura approached.Â The Keys could see winds ofÂ 39 to 57 mph through early Tuesday.Â
Heavy rain willÂ accompany the high winds from Laura:Â âFrom late Wednesday into Friday, Laura is expected to produce rainfall of 5 to 10 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches across portions of the west-central U.S. Gulf Coast near the Texas and Louisiana border north into portions of the lower Mississippi Valley,â the Hurricane Center wrote. âThis rainfall could cause widespread flash and urban flooding, small streams to overflow their banks, and the possibility of some minor river flooding across this region.â
« Laura will expand in size on Tuesday and Wednesday, and will likely grow into a larger-than-average storm capable of generating a very large storm surge, » according to meteorologists Bob Henson and Jeff Masters, who writeÂ for Yale Climate Connections.Â
The Atlantic hurricane season has been a record-breaker. Laura is the earliest L-named storm in the Atlantic Basin, breaking a record held by Luis, which formed Aug. 29, 1995. This season has had 13 named storms, well above-normal activity.Â
2020 could set a record for most hurricane hits this early in the year, if Laura also makes landfall this week. The most Atlantic named storms on record to make landfall in the continental USA by the end of August is six, which occurred in 1886 and 1916, according to Colorado State University meteorologist Phil Klotzbach. The continental USA has had five this year: Bertha, Cristobal, Fay, Hanna and Isaias, he said.Â
Contributing: John Bacon, Rick Jervis, Jordan CulverÂ and Jessica Flores, USA TODAY; Brian Broom, The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.); Greg Hilburn, The (Monroe, Louisiana) News-Star; The Associated Press
The strengthening Tropical Storm Laura killed several people as it passed through Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
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