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Ports closed as tropical cyclones approach US (with forecast video)

Ship-to-shore operations suspended at Louisiana ports and Port of Key West.

For the first time in more than 60 years, two named tropical cyclones could be spinning in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time.

SONAR Critical Events and radar: Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, 8 a.m. EDT; Tropical Storm Marco

Tropical Storm Marco, which was a Category 1 hurricane for a brief time, ran into some wind shear Sunday night. It’s back to a tropical storm, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph as of 8 a.m. EDT Monday.

Marco probably won’t become a hurricane again, making landfall as a tropical storm later Monday or Monday night on the Louisiana coast. The most likely landfall will be south of New Orleans, near Grand Isle. Marco could produce total rainfall accumulations of 3 to 5 inches in portions of the northeastern and north-central Gulf coast through Tuesday. Isolated maximum amounts of up to 10 inches are possible.

With Marco closing in, the U.S. Coast Guard has temporarily closed ports in Louisiana, including the Port of New Orleans (Port NOLA), the Port of South Louisiana and the Port of Baton Rouge. 

The ports are under condition ZULU. This means no vessels may enter or move within these ports without permission of the Captain of the Port (COTP), and all ship-to-shore operations must cease until further notice.

Right behind Marco is Tropical Storm Laura, which will dump flooding rainfall across much of Cuba on Monday. By Tuesday, it will head into the Gulf of Mexico, likely becoming a Category 1 hurricane. There’s a good chance Laura will hit the Gulf Coast as a Category 1 or 2 hurricane late Wednesday/early Thursday between Beaumont, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

SONAR Critical Events and satellite: Monday, Aug. 24, 2020, 8 a.m. EDT; Tropical Storm Marco forecast tracks

From late Wednesday into Friday, Laura could produce excessive rainfall of 5 to 10 inches, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches across portions of the west-central U.S. Gulf Coast. This would be from near the Texas-Louisiana border into portions of the lower Mississippi Valley.

Storm surge and heavy rainfall will likely lead to widespread flash flooding, and there’s also a threat of severe thunderstorms that may produce isolated tornadoes.

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Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.