Two dangerous weather developments are threatening the US Gulf Coast, two at a time.
Tropical storm Marco was upgraded to hurricane status on Sunday as it gained strength over the Gulf of Mexico. Marco could be part of an unprecedented twin strike to the U.S. Gulf Coast alongside Tropical Storm Laura, which could also strengthen to a hurricane this week.
Marco entered the Gulf of Mexico Saturday evening and was headed toward landfall in Louisiana or Mississippi on Monday afternoon, according to National Hurricane Center projections. As of Sunday afternoon, the Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter found Marco had reached sustained winds of 75 mph.
To reach hurricane status, a storm needs to generate sustained winds of at least 74 mph.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami warned Marco is expected to bring high gusts and life-threatening storm surge along the Gulf Coast.
Tropical storm Laura — about 40 miles northeast of Port au Prince, Haiti, as of Sunday morning — was expected to strengthen to a hurricane by Tuesday afternoon, the center said. It could make landfall from Texas to Florida’s Gulf Coast by Wednesday afternoon, forecasters said.
“It looks like the upper Gulf is going to get a one-two punch,” hurricane center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said. “That’s pretty much unprecedented that close together.”
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Friday ahead of the storms and on Saturday asked President Donald Trump to grant federal emergency status to the state.
A mandatory evacuation of Plaquemines Parish in New Orleans will begin on Sunday afternoon, parish officials announced on Saturday night. Plaquemines is the southernmost area of the city, surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico, and has been severely damaged by previous hurricanes, including Katrina in 2005.