US Gulf coast takes hit from weakened Marco, also under threat from Laura

Miami, Aug 24 (efe-epa).- Marco was downgraded to a tropical storm overnight and is slowly approaching the coast of the state of Louisiana, while Tropical Storm Laura is passing over Cuba on Monday and is projected to strengthen further and make landfall midweek along the northern United States Gulf coast.

According to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center’s latest bulletin, Marco is centered about 90 kilometers (55 miles) southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and is moving to the north-northwest at a speed of 13 km per hour.

Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi are under a state of emergency ahead of the arrival of Marco and of Laura, which brought heavy rain to Puerto Rico and caused severe flooding and is blamed for around a dozen deaths in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

On Monday, Laura is passing just off Cuba’s southern coast and is bringing heavy rainfall and flash flooding to parts of that Caribbean country, as well as to Jamaica and the Cayman Islands.

Marco, which was the earliest 13th named storm ever recorded in the Atlantic basin, is currently bringing heavy rainfall and gusty winds to parts of the northern Gulf coast and is forecast to make a turn to the west-northwest by Tuesday.

It is then projected to move very close to the coast of Louisiana through Tuesday night before weakening to a tropical depression along the coast of Texas.

The NHC says the combination of a dangerous storm surge and the tide will cause flooding in normally dry areas of the coast of Louisiana and Mississippi; it also said rainfall of up to 10 inches through Tuesday in parts of the Gulf coast could create flooding as well.

Laura, meanwhile, is forecast to affect most of Cuba as either a tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane and then move toward the northwest Gulf of Mexico, where it could make landfall on Wednesday night as a Category 2 hurricane in roughly the same area now being affected by Marco.

In the NHC’s 11 am bulletin, the center of Laura was located 105 km east-southeast of Cayo Largo, a small resort island in Cuba; and 230 km east-southeast of Isla de la Juventud (Cuba’s second largest island).

It was moving to the west-northwest at 31 km/h with maximum sustained winds of 95 km/h.

A decrease in forward speed is expected over the next day or so, according to the NHC, which said Laura’s maximum sustained winds are projected to increase as it moves over the Gulf of Mexico and that it is forecast to become a hurricane on Tuesday, with additional strengthening forecast on Wednesday.

Laura would become the fourth storm this season to become a hurricane after Hanna, Isaias and Marco, which acquired hurricane strength on Sunday over the Gulf of Mexico.

Some studies indicate that climate change is making storms and hurricanes more frequent and more severe, according to the Democratic Party-linked Climate Power 2020 organization. EFE-EPA


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