PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti－After a day as a hurricane, Tropical Storm Marco was approaching Louisiana for an expected landfall around midday on Monday, while Tropical Storm Laura was forecast to move along Cuba’s southern coast during the day before entering the Gulf of Mexico. Laura was heading toward the same stretch of US coast later in the week, most likely as a hurricane.
US media said twin hurricanes were unprecedented in the Gulf of Mexico since records began 150 years ago.
Laura caused the deaths of at least 13 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, while knocking out power and causing flooding in the two nations that share the island of Hispaniola.
Laura moved over eastern Cuba late on Sunday, following a path likely to take it to the same part of the US coast, also as a potential hurricane. It appeared the storms would not be hurricanes simultaneously－something that researchers say has never happened in the Gulf of Mexico at least since records began being kept in 1900.
Marco had grown into a hurricane early on Sunday, but the National Hurricane Center said its sustained winds decreased to 110 kilometers per hour after nightfall.
The center cautioned that Marco could still cause life-threatening storm surges and dangerous winds along the Gulf Coast. It was centered about 295 km south-southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River heading north-northwest at 20 kph late on Sunday.
Laura was centered about 200 km southeast of Camaguey, Cuba, late on Sunday, and had maximum sustained winds of 100 kph. It was moving west-northwest at 33 kph and was predicted to strengthen into a hurricane by Tuesday morning as it followed a path likely to take it to the Louisiana coast by Wednesday night, forecasters said.
Haitian civil protection officials said they had received reports a 10-year-old girl was killed when a tree fell on a home in the southern coastal town of Anse-a-Pitres, on the border with the Dominican Republic. Haiti’s prime minister said at least eight other people died and two were missing. In the Dominican Republic, relatives told reporters a collapsed wall killed a mother and her young son.
Hundreds of thousands were without power in the Dominican Republic amid heavy flooding in both countries.
Laura could strengthen into a Category 2 or 3 hurricane on the 5-step Saffir-Simpson scale for measuring hurricane intensity and move west, closer to Houston, said Chris Kerr, a meteorologist at DTN, an energy, agriculture and weather data provider. Category 2 storms have sustained winds of at least 155 kph.
Despite Marco’s weakening, a storm surge warning remained in place from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and a hurricane warning was kept from Morgan City to the mouth of the Pearl River. A tropical storm warning included Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana, and metropolitan New Orleans.
A storm surge of up to 1.2 meters was forecast for parts of coastal Louisiana and Mississippi.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, who declared a state of emergency on Friday, asked President Donald Trump for a federal emergency declaration. Trump issued a disaster declaration on Sunday for Louisiana. He had previously issued a similar declaration for Puerto Rico.
People in Louisiana headed out to stores to stock up on food, water and other supplies.
The hurricane center said the storms were not expected to interact as the region faces an unusually active hurricane season.
Forecasters have termed the current hurricane season in the Caribbean “extremely active”, predicting 19 to 25 named storms, including seven to 11 hurricanes.
The hurricane season in the Caribbean runs through Nov 30.
The storms added to worries about the spread of COVID-19.
In Grand Isle, at Louisiana’s southern tip, authorities were placing sandbags to bolster its protective levy while energy companies pulled workers from offshore platforms and shut down oil production.
Oil producers, including BP, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell, had shut 58 percent of the Gulf’s offshore oil production and 45 percent of natural gas production on Sunday.
Agencies – Xinhua