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Tropical Storm Laura's track includes Houston; Marco weakens near Louisiana

Our main concern in Southeast Texas is Laura - not Marco. We'll want to watch the forecast track closely today.

HOUSTON — Editor's note: This page is no longer current. We're keeping the latest updates on Tropical Storm Laura here.

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Overnight, the track of Tropical Storm Laura moved back slightly to the west, putting Houston in the cone of certainty. The center of the forecast cone is now in western Louisiana, but Houston is in the cone's far western edge. This storm has been very difficult to forecast, so it can easily shift and should be watched closely. It is still expected to pick up steam as it moves across the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday.

Late Sunday, Tropical Storm Marco weakened to a tropical storm as it edged closer to the Louisiana coast. It had been a Category 1 hurricane, but the National Hurricane Center downgraded it. It's still expected to take a turn to the west and the Houston area remains in the cone, but by the time it reaches Texas it will start to dissipate and shouldn't bring significant impacts our way.

Below are updates on both of the storms.

Tropical Storm Laura - where is it going?

The National Hurricane Center's track for Laura, for now, has it making landfall in western Louisiana as a Category 2 hurricane Wednesday evening. The track has been centered near the Texas-Louisiana border, and the 4 a.m. Monday update put Houston back in the cone - but just barely.

KHOU 11 Meteorologist Chita Craft says until Laura clears Cuba later tonight, it will be difficult to predict the track, which is why we have seen it shift west and east a few times. Either way, there is an increasing risk of storm surge, rainfall, and wind impacts along portions of the U.S. Gulf coast by the middle of the week. 

Credit: KHOU 11
Tropical Storm Laura 10 a.m. update Aug 24, 2020
Credit: KHOU 11
Tropical Storm Laura 10 a.m. update Aug 24, 2020

As of the 10 a.m. update Monday, Laura was moving west-northwest at 20 mph with winds at 60 mph. It is located 65 miles east-southeast of Cayo Largo.

Heavy rainfall is likely across Cuba and Jamaica today, causing life-threatening flash flooding and mudslides. Tropical storm conditions are expected in the Dry Tortugas and in the lower Florida Keys later today.

The long-range track remains uncertain. Intensity is the least predictable factor of tropical weather and Laura could be significantly stronger, even possibly a major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico by early this week.

RELATED: What is storm surge and why is it so dangerous?

RELATED: View forecast cones and spaghetti models for Laura, Marco

Marco weakens to tropical storm as it edges closer to Louisiana

Marco weakened to a tropical storm Sunday night as it faced wind shear and dry air in the central-northern Gulf of Mexico. Winds decreased to 70 mph, and it is forecast to stay a tropical storm as it skirts the Louisiana coastline on Monday.

It is still expected to bring storm surge and tropical storm force winds to Louisiana on Monday.

Credit: KHOU 11
Tropical Storm Marco 10 a.m. update Aug 24, 2020
Credit: KHOU 11
Tropical Storm Marco 10 a.m. update Aug 24, 2020

As of the 10 a.m. update, Marco had winds of 50 mph, down from 70 mph earlier in the morning. It is moving 8 mph north-northwest and is located 55 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River.

The center of the cone rides the Gulf coast all the way to the Houston area by Wednesday. By the time it makes it to Houston, however, it will have weakened greatly and should not be much of a threat to our area.

Gusty winds and heavy rainfall are expected along the Mississippi and Louisiana coasts today. Here's a timeline from our sister station, WWL, in New Orleans, of what people in Louisiana can expect as Marco moves in.

12 PM Monday - Tropical storm force winds spread inland for New Orleans and the Northshore. Some hurricane force gusts near the coast. Passing showers and downpours. Storm surge rises along the coast. 

4 PM Monday – Center of Marco approaches and skirts the south Louisiana coast as it turns west or possibly makes landfall along the southeast Louisiana coast as it skirts westward. Tropical storm force winds. Passing showers and downpours. Rain could be heavy at times. Storm surge rises along the coast.

8 PM Monday – Marco’s center continues moving to the west or northwest, likely staying southwest of New Orleans. Breezy winds. Passing showers and downpours. Rain could be heavy at times. Storm surge stays steady or begins to fall slightly.

2 AM Tuesday – Marco’s center is farther west possibly over western Louisiana. Winds weaken. Passing showers and downpours. Rain could be heavy at times. Storm surge falls gradually.

8 AM Tuesday - Winds ease, but still breezy. Cloudy with passing showers and downpours. Rain could be heavy at times.Storm surge falls gradually.

What is the Fujiwhara Effect and could these two storms merge?

In a year that's seen everything from a global pandemic to murder hornets, now we have a possibility of not one but two hurricanes in Gulf waters at the same time.  Tropical Depression 13 was the first to become a named storm as Laura on Friday morning. Tropical Depression 14 became Tropical Storm Marco Friday night.  Could they merge in the Gulf?  It's possible. But not likely. Here's what to know about the Fujiwhara Effect.

Be prepared this hurricane season

It's way too early to know the exact intensity and track these two systems will take. Regardless, we're in a very active hurricane season, so it's a good idea to know what you'll need if a storm was approaching.

Here is a list of important items you should have at home or take with you if you evacuate:

  • Water - at least 1 gallon daily per person for 3-7 days; also fill bathtub and other containers; Gator Aid is good to fend off dehydration
  • Food - at least enough for 3-7 days; non-perishable packaged or canned food; juices; foods for infants or elderly family members; snack foods; food for special diets
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Cooking tools, fuel
  • Paper plates and cups, plastic utensils
  • Bedding: Blankets, Pillows, etc.
  • Clothing
  • Rain gear
  • Sturdy shoes
  • First Aid Kit, Medicines, Prescription Drugs
  • Toilet paper, paper towels, trash bags
  • Toiletries, hand sanitizer, hygiene items, moisture wipes, dry shampoo
  • Flashlight, batteries, lantern
  • Radio: Battery operated and NOAA weather radio
  • Telephones: Fully charged cell phone with extra battery; chargers; traditional (not cordless) telephone set
  • Cash (with some small bills) and Credit Cards: Banks and ATMs may not be available for extended periods
  • Important documents: Place in a waterproof container or watertight resealable plastic bag: Should include insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, Social Security card, prescriptions, etc.
  • Tools: Keep a set with you during the storm
  • Gas: Fill up your vehicles several days before landfall is expected; Gas stations could lose power during a storm and supply trucks may not be able to reach the area
  • Pet care items: Proper identification, immunization records, medications, ample supply of food and water; a carrier or cage; muzzle and/ or leash
  • Bleach without lemon or any other additives
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Keys
  • Toys, books and games for children
  • Duct tape
  • Cell Phone charging stations - locations where you can charge mobile devices