Tropical storms Marco and Laura are moving into the Gulf of Mexico. Jeffry Evans, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in the Houston/Galveston area, told Texas Standard that though Marco is the most immediate threat, its strength is dissipating quickly. Laura, he said, is the storm to watch because it’s expected to make landfall near the Texas/Louisiana border.
“Laura will be the storm of record as it comes up in the northwestern Gulf over the next 48 hours,” Evans said.
Here’s what to know about both storms:
Marco is weakening:
Most of the thunderstorms it is creating are in the Florida Panhandle, and other parts of the central and eastern Gulf Coast. It will likely drift westward and become a tropical depression over the next 24 hours.
Laura could rival Hurricane Ike:
If it makes landfall on the far east Texas coast, that would be the first hurricane in 12 years to do so. It could grow to a Category 2 or 3 hurricane by Wednesday night or Thursday morning, and is expected to land between Galveston Island, Texas, and Vermilion Bay, Louisiana.
“It’s probably the most threatening hurricane we’ve had in the upper Texas coast since Ike in 2008,” Evans said.
What to expect from the storm:
Laura is a fast-moving storm, unlike Hurricane Harvey in 2017, which stalled over the Houston area dumping rain for several days. But Laura will likely cause significant storm surge along the coast, very heavy winds, heavy rain and possible tornadoes. Threatened areas might start evacuating vulnerable populations starting Monday, and Evans expects hurricane watches will be issued some time Monday as well.
Laura’s impact depends on whether it turns right:
If the storm turns right, that could mean less of an impact on Texas. But if it does turn, it likely won’t do so until shortly before landfall.
“We do not expect that right turn to occur until it gets very close to landfall. So, we’re looking at 18 hours or so before landfall before this storm may turn, if it turns,” Evans said.
What a last-minute turn means for evacuation:
Since the storm’s possible turn would happen during a short span of time, those who wait could end up stuck without enough time to evacuate if the hurricane stays on course.
“If it doesn’t turn, people would not have time to act,” Evans said.
Follow COVID-19 safety precautions if your area evacuates:
Follow evacuation orders, but still practice social distancing, wear masks and wash hands to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“[If] officials are telling you you need to go, you need to go. But that doesn’t mean you need to ignore your pandemic plans,” Evans said. “We’re gonna have to handle both risks as they come at us.”