Tropical Storm Laura to strengthen as it heads to Gulf Coast, Marco downgraded to depression


    The Gulf Coast is bracing for Tropical Storm Laura, which is expected to hit Louisiana later this week as a hurricane, the NWS said.

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    Hurricanes have cost the U.S. billions, but none more than these five storms.

    Asheville Citizen Times

    Tropical Storm Laura is expected to make landfall as a hurricane Tuesday, and could become a major hurricane as it approaches the Gulf Coast Wednesday, according to the latest National Hurricane Center update. 

    The USA TODAY Network – Louisiana is covering the storm from approach to landfall and beyond. Get the latest updates on Laura, Marco here. 

    Marco, which made landfall over the mouth of the Mississippi River Monday night, has been downgraded to a tropical depression, according to the latest update from the National Hurricane Center. 

    As of 10 p.m. Monday, Marco was moving 9 mph west and is about 45 miles west of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Laura is moving at 20 mph west-northwest direction and is about 80 miles northeast of the western tip of Cuba and 765 miles southeast of Lake Charles, Louisiana.

    Marco is forecast to continue moving westward near the coast of Louisiana for the next day or so.

    Laura was recorded as having maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. Laura is then forecast to move over the central and northwestern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night and approach the northwestern coast of the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday night.

    The NHC says additional strengthening is forecast on Wednesday, and Laura could be near major hurricane strength when it approaches the coast.

    A hurricane watch has been issued for the northwest Gulf Coast as Tropical Storm Laura approaches. 

    Laura is moving 20 mph west-northwest direction, 40 miles east of the Isle of Youth, according to the National Weather Service.

    Laura was recorded as having maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. Marco was recorded as having maximum sustained winds of 40 mph.

    Lafayette Consolidated Government released a Lafayette Parish Evacuation Route Plan on Monday in preparation of Tropical Storms Marco and Laura. The routes are for residents who have been asked to voluntarily evacuate flood-prone areas, including those south of Interstate 10.

    Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards warned residents to remain on guard for what could be a major hurricane by the time Laura reaches the state’s western coast Wednesday night packing 100-plus mph winds.

    Edwards said residents shouldn’t be lulled into complacency after Tropical Storm Marco fizzled Monday, delivering more of a glancing blow rather than the opening hay-maker that had been feared with a one-two punch.

    But the governor said the state remains on high alert for Laura, which he said it is on track to make landfall near Lake Charles, « though it’s hard to be precise » this early, he said.

    « My message is not to assume Laura is going to do us a similar favor (as Marco), » Edwards said. « We were always told the greatest threat would come from Laura and that certainly appears to be the case now.

    St. Mary Parish President David Hanagriff has declared a voluntary evacuation for all areas south of Intracoastal Waterway effective Monday at noon due to the effects of tropical storms Marco and Laura.

    The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office is preparing its Search and Rescue team for the coming days. The sheriff’s office is hosting Louisiana’s Task Force One in Lafayette, said sheriff’s spokesman Capt. John Mowell. 

    Firefighters from Ouachita Parish were already in Lafayette and staging with the sheriff’s office. More agencies were expected to arrive Monday and Tuesday, Mowell said. 

    Lafayette home supply stores are selling out of generators as consumers rush to stock up before the storms hit. Most grocery stores are reporting good supplies in the Lafayette area, but some items are in heavy demand. At the top of the list of items moving fast – bottled water. 

    Lafayette storm preparations continue, with officials coordinating first-responder resources across the parish and steps being taken along the Vermilion River to keep water levels low.

    The Lafayette Utilities System is working five tree-trimming crews in advance of the storms to protect power lines from potential impact. Four utility crews totaling 25 workers are coming in from Tallahassee, Florida, Monday to assist during the week to storms. Interim LUS Director Lowell Duhon said those crews could be used to assist other electricity providers in the region if Lafayette is spared from significant impact.

    Voluntary and mandatory evacuation orders are in effect for parts or all of the following parishes: Lafayette, Iberia, Acadia, St. Martin, Lafourche, Terrebonne, Cameron, Jefferson, Orleans and Plaquemines.

    The Louisiana Department of Health tweeted Monday that COVID-19 testing will be paused as Tropical Storms Laura and Marco approach. 

    Testing is paused through Tuesday, and may be extended through Wednesday depending on Tropical Storm Laura’s expected landfall, according to their tweet. 

    Tropical Storm Marco is expected to make landfall Monday afternoon along Louisiana’s eastern coastline, according to the National Hurricane Center forecasts. 

    Tropical Storm Laura is expected to make landfall as a hurricane Wednesday or Thursday in Louisiana. The National Weather Service forecasts Laura’s impact further west than Marco’s expected path. 

    As of 7 a.m. Monday, Marco was moving 10 mph northwest and is about 85 miles south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and Laura, 21 mph west-northwest direction, miles east-southeast of Cayo Largo, according to the National Weather Service.

    Marco is forecast to approach the coast of Louisiana this afternoon, and then turn westward and move very close to the coast of Louisiana through Tuesday night.

    Laura is then forecast to move over the central and northwestern Gulf of Mexico Tuesday night and Wednesday.




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