Tropical Storms Marco and Laura continue to gain strength Sunday as they barrel toward the Gulf of Mexico, with Marco nearing hurricane strength, with both storms expected to make landfall in Louisiana.
Marco will make landfall in the U.S. first, according to Nick Austin, director of weather analytics and senior meteorologist for FreightWaves.
Tropical Storm Marco is the 13th named storm of the hurricane season, matching the record for the most number of tropical storms before September, according to a report by the South Florida Sun Sentinel. The only other time that happened was in 2005, the year of Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma.
Austin said that Marco is out in the Gulf of Mexico, about 350 miles south of the Louisiana coastline, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph. He said Marco is expected to be upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane sometime Sunday with sustained winds in the range of 74 to 95 mph.
“The question is whether it will get stronger than a Category 1 before landfall on the Louisiana coast, which will likely happen sometime Monday, either afternoon or evening,” Austin said in a special weekend weather update Sunday. “There’s always a chance because of the extremely warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico, that it may become a Category 2 hurricane briefly at some point before landfall.”
The U.S. Coast Guard is restricting vessel movement at the Port of Key West, according to Austin’s report. All vessels greater than 300 gross tons must depart unless the Captain of the Port (COTP) has approved a request to remain in port. Terminals and facilities must cease all cargo operations and secure handling of equipment. Bulk liquid terminals must ensure that all transfer hoses and loading arms are drained, flanged and secured.
Tropical Storm Laura
Tropical Storm Laura is currently moving across Haiti Sunday morning and will continue to move westward across Cuba, heading into the first part of the week, Austin said.
Laura’s maximum sustained winds are around 45 mph, but could pick up strength over the Gulf of Mexico and become a Category 1 hurricane in the middle part of next week.
Laura is expected to make landfall sometime late Wednesday night or Thursday in southwestern Louisiana.
“The Louisiana coast could just really get hammered by these two storms and the main issue again is going to be flooding because of a storm surge,” Austin said.
On Saturday, crews from the Flood Protection Authority in Southeast Louisiana were staging supplies for response efforts ahead of Tropical Storms Marco and Laura making landfall.
Nick Austin, director of weather analytics and senior meteorologist, contributed to this report.
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