Tropical Storm Laura veers further west away from Tampa Bay; but rough weather lurks

Tropical Storms Laura and Marco are forecast to reach hurricane strength in the Gulf of Mexico next week.
The National Hurricane Center's forecasted path of Tropical Storm Laura from the 11 p.m. Friday advisory.
The National Hurricane Center's forecasted path of Tropical Storm Laura from the 11 p.m. Friday advisory. [ National Hurricane Center ]
Published Aug. 20, 2020|Updated Aug. 22, 2020

Tropical Storm Laura continued moving west away from Florida on Friday night as the latest track saw it entering the Gulf of Mexico early next week and taking aim at New Orleans.

But there’s now a second tropical storm approaching the Gulf: Tropical Depression 14 reached maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and officially became Tropical Storm Marco.

However, predictions that two hurricanes could enter the Gulf of Mexico next week were severely dampened by the latest forecast. Marco is no longer forecast to strengthen into a hurricane, and is instead expected to remain a tropical storm on its way to the Texas coast next week.

Laura was located 195 miles east-southeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico and moving west at nearly 18 mph, according to the National Weather Service’s 11 p.m. forecast. It was generating maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. Tropical force winds extended as far out as 205 mph.

But the latest track also takes Laura over land this weekend, including the mountains of Hispaniola and Cuba, which could significantly weaken the storm before it enters the eastern Gulf of Mexico on Monday.

Laura could dump 3 to 6 inches of rain over the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, southern Haiti and eastern Cuba. Residents of the islands should also watch out for flash flooding and mud slides.

Marco was located about 180 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico and moving north-northwest at nearly 13 mph. The center is forecast to move over the northeastern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula Saturday night and enter the Gulf on Sunday.

There’s a third tropical system out there as well, called “Disturbance 1″ off the coast of Africa. It’s a disorganized band of thundershowers that is expected to move east through the Tropical Atlantic. It has just a 20 percent chance of developing over the next five days.

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2020 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

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NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter

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