A hurricane watch was issued for the New Orleans metro area, which was pummeled by Hurricane Katrina in August 2005.
Laura is disorganized Saturday morning and will move over parts of the Caribbean through this weekend. But forecast models have suggested the possibility since at least Thursday (Aug. 20), and the storms are still following the path that would lead to double Gulf hurricanes.
The hurricane center on Friday issued tropical storm warnings for the northern Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico.
In response to Marco, the government of Cuba issued a tropical storm warning for the province of Pinar del Rio, the centre said. It was moving west-northwest at 16 miles per hour (26 kph). However, if both were to become hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time, it would be the first time on record that has happened. That triggered a shift in the forecast track, putting Caribbean islands more at risk and an upgrade to tropical storm status. Again, locally heavy rain, gusty winds, and storm surge flooding will be the primary hazards but isolated tornadoes can not be ruled out.
Oil and gas companies operating offshore in the Gulf of Mexico were evacuating workers and halting production Saturday as two tropical storms that could become hurricanes head toward the region.
In the afternoon it will approach the Dominican Republic, beginning to affect it from tonight and during Sunday morning, when it approaches the eastern end of Cuba.
Tropical Depression 14 strengthens to Tropical Storm Marco
Laura now has winds of approximately 75km/h (47mph) with stronger gusts and some strengthening likely over the next few days. Residents in areas of concern are urged to monitor the forecast closely and prepare in advance in case of evacuations.
The Dominican Republic and Haiti expect 4 to 8 inches of rain, with maximum amounts of 12 inches across southern areas.
FOX 35's Glenn Richards has the current on Tropical Storms Laura and Marco. It is forecast to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast on Wednesday, NHC projections show.
"In preparation for the tropical weather, we have begun evacuating all personnel at our ... operated Big Foot, Genesis, Jack / St. Malo and Tahiti platforms and are initiating our shut-in procedures at the four facilities", Chevron said in a statement.
Forecasters said that while atmospheric conditions are favourable for Laura to grow, its passage over Puerto Rico and the mountains of Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba could tear it apart or weaken it before it enters warm Gulf waters conducive to growth. Stay weather aware and prepare for stormy weather this week.
In their most recent forecast, meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center say that strengthening high pressure over the western Atlantic should keep Laura's center from passing through Florida.
The weather service said tropical-storm force winds will be possible along the coast with squalls near the coast by late Sunday, spreading inland into Monday.