Gulf Coast On Alert As Simultaneous Tropical Storms Threaten

Aug 22, 2020, 6:37 PM | Updated: Dec 19, 2022, 11:57 pm
Tropical Storm Marco strengthened significantly on Saturday and could hit Louisiana as a hurricane ...
Tropical Storm Marco strengthened significantly on Saturday and could hit Louisiana as a hurricane by Monday, according to the latest National Hurricane Center forecast. Marco, which could reach hurricane status as soon as Saturday night, is one of two tropical systems expected to impact the Gulf Coast in the coming days. (Courtesy: CNN)
(Courtesy: CNN)

(CNN) — Tropical Storm Marco strengthened significantly on Saturday and could hit Louisiana as a hurricane by Monday, according to the latest National Hurricane Center forecast.

Marco, which could reach hurricane status as soon as Saturday night, is one of two tropical systems expected to impact the Gulf Coast in the coming days.

The storm marched past the Yucatan Peninsula earlier on Saturday and is moving north into the Gulf of Mexico, according to the hurricane center.

A hurricane watch has been issued from Intracoastal City, Louisiana, to the Mississippi-Alabama border, including Lake Pontchartrain and New Orleans. Much of the Alabama coast is under a tropical storm watch.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Laura is moving away from western Puerto Rico and is expected to move over the island of Hispaniola Saturday night into Sunday, according to the hurricane center’s latest advisory.

A tropical storm watch has been issued for the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef to Key West and for the Dry Tortugas, as Laura is expected to pass just south of the Keys on Monday, forecasters said.

Laura is expected to strengthen to a hurricane in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico by Tuesday and make landfall in Louisiana on Wednesday. The storm could become a Category 1 hurricane but that prediction might be conservative as the warm Gulf waters could allow for rapid strengthening of the storm, according to the weather service.

Voluntary evacuation orders

While it’s unclear how the storms will develop, forecasters say two potential hurricanes could make landfalls in Louisiana within a few days.

Authorities in Grand Isle, Louisiana, have called all campers, RVs and boaters to voluntarily evacuate due to the potential impact of the storms. A state National Guard unit was placing sand sacks along the town and officials were preparing generators and pumps, the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority tweeted.

The mayor of Jean Lafitte, Louisiana, and the president of Jefferson Parrish have issued voluntary evacuation orders for the towns of Jean Lafitte, Lower Lafitte, Crown Point and Barataria, according to a news release from Jefferson Parrish. The order went into effect at 6 p.m. CST.

Residents are advised to bring all vehicles, boats and campers to higher ground.

“We want to make sure residents are safe as these storms approach so we are taking all the necessary precautions to be fully prepared,” said Jean Lafitte Mayor Tim Kerner in the release.

Having two systems so close to the US at the same time complicates things to say the least.

“It’s always tough to predict hurricanes, especially their intensity,” CNN meteorologist Dave Hennen says. “In this case, it’s tough to say at this point which storm will be the strongest. The storms could potentially interact with each other and that makes this forecast (or two) even more complicated.”

Two tropical storms head to the Gulf of Mexico

Both systems are headed to the Gulf of Mexico. This is a rare occurrence as only twice in recorded history have two systems that were tropical storm strength or stronger been in the Gulf simultaneously.

On September 5, 1933, a Category 3 hurricane hit Brownsville, Texas, while an unnamed tropical storm was near Florida. On June 18, 1959, Tropical Storm Beulah and an unnamed tropical storm were in the Gulf at the same time.

Right now, both storms could possibly intensify to hurricane strength as they move through the Gulf.

“We have never had two hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico simultaneously,” said Phil Klotzbach, a tropical researcher for Colorado State University.

As of now, these systems are still several days away from impacting the US, so there is a lot that could change. However, since there are two systems at play here, essentially everything from Texas to Florida is an option.

“Near the end of the period, (Tropical Storm) Marco’s track and intensity could be influenced by Tropical Storm Laura, which is also forecast to be over the Gulf of Mexico,” according to the hurricane center, although the details on that interaction are still unclear.

Not to mention evacuations.

“The Gulf of Mexico is very warm and conducive to very rapid intensification,” said CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. “Two landfalling hurricanes in close proximity to each other make evacuation plans that much more difficult.”

Power companies may also encounter a prospect they’ve never dealt with before: restoring power after two storms hit amid a global pandemic.

We are still weeks away from peak of hurricane season

The statistical peak of Atlantic hurricane season is September 10, which is still several weeks away. What’s more concerning is that 85% of major hurricanes (Category 3 and above) occur after August 20, but 2020 has been quite an active season already.

When Tropical Storm Laura was named on Friday it set a record for the earliest “L” named storm. That has happened eight other times so far in 2020, as Cristobal, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, and Kyle achieved this same record for their respective letters. Tropical Storm Marco quickly followed suit Friday evening becoming the earliest 13th named storm.

Above-average sea surface temperatures are providing the necessary fuel for the development of tropical cyclone formations. An enhanced La Niña Watch was also issued last week, which could also contribute to enhanced hurricane activity.

There are a lot of comparisons out there to the record-breaking 2005 Atlantic hurricane season. Not only is this year’s hurricane season currently on pace to match the number of named storms in 2005, it also happened to be a year where La Niña developed in the autumn.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories


Shelby Lofton

Tooele County animal sanctuary needs donations to keep its animals warm

At an animal sanctuary in Erda, some animals can't come inside, so they're getting creative to keep them warm.
2 days ago
Cheryl Altman's water wasn't working right, she discovered the water in her pipes was frozen. (KSL ...
Alex Cabrero

Dozens of homeowners dealing with frozen pipes in Sandy

Recent cold temperatures have caused frozen pipes for dozens of homeowners in Utah. Here are some problem-solving options.
3 days ago
Andrew Adams

Taylorsville music store temporarily closed by broken pipes, flooding

The owner of a longtime music store said Tuesday that extreme cold temperatures contributed to a fire suppression system malfunction that led to pipes breaking and a flooded storefront. 
4 days ago
Utah State University students (mostly) bundled up against the cold weather. (KSL-TV's Mike Anderso...
Mike Anderson

Logan residents persevere through the second day of the winter chill

Logan residents push through the frigid weather as schools and businesses start late to help fight against the cold mornings.
4 days ago
Peter Sinks from Chopper 5...
Katija Stjepovic

Experiencing 62 degrees below zero at Peter Sinks

Tuesday marked another day of arctic temperatures in Utah with some areas even colder than Monday.
4 days ago
Artic weather leads to canceled flights...
Lilit Marcus, CNN

More than 1,800 flights canceled Tuesday, hundreds more on Wednesday

More than 1,800 flights were canceled and many more were delayed on Tuesday as a brutal ice storm continued to hit parts of the South and central United States, bringing a second day of transport problems.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Gulf Coast On Alert As Simultaneous Tropical Storms Threaten