The effects of Tropical Storm Marco on Louisiana proved to be less than state originally feared, but Gov. John Bel Edwards warned Louisianans “to not assume (Tropical Storm) Laura (which was crossing Cuba Monday) is going to do us a similar favor.”
Forecasters expect Tropical Storm Laura to strengthen significantly and in a very short period of time as it moves across the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana.
Over the weekend state officials expressed the worry that the state could be getting hit by Laura before conducting rescue missions from Marco or reconnecting power. But experts said a wind shear ripped apart Marco and the storm mostly fizzled out.
“The good news is we have more time to focus on (Tropical Storm) Laura before it has any major impacts on our state,” Edwards said at a press conference at the Louisiana State Police Training Academy in Baton Rouge. “The focus is obviously also going to shift, because of the current track, more from Southeast Louisiana to Southwest Louisiana.”
Tropical Storm Laura is expected to become a strong category 2 or weak category 3 hurricane when it hits landfall on late Wednesday on very early Thursday, Edwards said at a follow-up press conference on Monday afternoon at the policy academy. That means the storm could potentially bring 100 to 110 mph winds.
Hurricane Rita, a destructive storm which made landfall near the Louisiana-Texas border in September 2005, was the last Category 3 storm to hit the state. Laura is expected to take a somewhat similar path and make landfall somewhere between southeast Texas and south central Louisiana.
“I would encourage everyone to not become fixated on the cone. A third of the time, the storm will make landfall outside the cone, but whether it does or not, the impacts of the storm will be felt outside the cone,” said Edwards.
At a Sunday press conference, Ben Schott, meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in New Orleans said that winds from Laura might be felt 100-150 miles from its center.
Edwards said at a Sunday press conference that “COVID-19 is prevalent throughout our state. The virus is not concerned that we have hurricanes coming. It’s not going to take any time off and neither can we.”
Monday morning, the governor reported 622 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 deaths, bringing the state’s death toll to 4,623.
“The data still has Louisiana ‘red’ for cases at more than 100 cases per 100,000 over the previous seven days,” Edwards said. “But there is no doubt our case growth is slowing.”
As residents continue to prepare for bad weather, Edwards warned that “there is still an awful lot of COVID out there. That should influence everything you do.”