The August 24 FMCSA emergency declaration was issued in response to Hurricane Laura and Tropical Storm Marco and applies to Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. The hurricane could slam into land this week as a major storm with ferocious winds and deadly flooding. The forecast shows Laura rapidly intensifying into a Category 3 hurricane tomorrow with winds up to 115 miles per hour.
Data collected by reconnaissance aircraft used by the US Air Force and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicate that Laura's maximum sustained winds have reached roughly 60 miles per hour, and that the storm is expected to gain strength as it moves over the Gulf of Mexico.
At least 11 people were killed in the Dominican Republic and Haiti as the storm knocked out power to the two countries and caused flooding, The Associated Press reported.
A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the Cuban provinces of Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Matanzas, Mayabeque, La Habana, Artemisa, Pinar del Rio, and the Isle of Youth; and Dry Tortugas.
Tropical Storm Laura just below hurricane-level strength and is forecast to "become a major hurricane" Wednesday as it nears the Louisiana and Texas coastline, according to the National Hurricane Center.
As Marco was on its deathbed, the National Hurricane Center issued its first storm watches for Laura.
The double punch comes just days before the August 29 anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which breached the levees in New Orleans, flattened much of the MS coast and killed as many as 1800 people. Laura became a hurricane with top winds of 120 km/h shortly after passing between the western tip of Cuba and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
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A tropical storm warning for the middle Florida Keys was discontinued, but one remained in place from the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, the hurricane center said late Monday.
NHC forecasters say that this general motion should continue today.
Over the weekend, Laura's remnants are predicted to spread rains into the middle-Mississippi, lower OH and Tennessee Valleys.
This is many more than the average for this time of year and could make the season "go Greek", with the Greek alphabet having to be used to name storms if the existing list of intended names is exhausted.
In Waveland, Miss., a coastal town devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Jeremy Burke said "our biggest threat down here is the storm surge". While there will be rain, forecasters are more concerned about wind and storm surge. Then a little less than a month later came Hurricane Rita which struck southwest Louisiana on September 24 as a Category 3 storm.
The Gulf Coast is still expected to feel some impacts from the system.