Tropical Storm Laura is likely to become a hurricane Tuesday as it heads into the warm waters of the Caribbean, forecasters warn, while its twin storm Marco is losing strength but will still produce heavy and high winds as it approaches the Gulf Coast of the southern United States.
The National Hurricane Center says that, as of midday Monday, Marco was within 90 kilometers of the mouth of the Mississippi River on the Louisiana coast. A strong, steady southwesterly wind shear weakened Marco, which, some models predicted, could become a hurricane.
The forecasters say Marco will degenerate into a tropical depression by late Monday or early Tuesday, but is still forecast to produce a potentially deadly storm surge for areas of coastal Louisiana and Mississippi and produce as much as 25 centimeters of rain for some areas.
As of midday Monday, Tropical Storm Laura was just off the southern coast of Cuba, after leaving a path of destruction in its wake across Puerto Rico, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, where it killed at least 11 people.
Forecasters expect the storm to move into the very warm waters of the northwestern Caribbean early Tuesday, where they expect it to become a hurricane. It could strengthen into a large and dangerous storm as it crosses the equally warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
The storm is forecast to make landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday in a zone between roughly New Orleans and Houston. The National Hurricane Center warned residents and businesses in these areas to monitor the progress of Laura and ensure they have their hurricane plan in place, as storm surge and hurricane watches will likely be issued later Monday.