REMEMBERING ANDREW AS LAURA SLIDES BY SOUTH FLORIDA & LOOMS AS A MAJOR HURRICANE THREAT IN THE GULF
It’s Monday, August 24, 2020. Ironically, this year the days of the week line up with that fateful Monday 28 years ago. By 8:00 that morning, people in Dade County in the path of Hurricane Andrew knew that their world had been turned upside down in 3 ½ terrifying hours.
During those hours, missiles made out of 2 x 4’s penetrated concrete houses and palm trees. Cars were flipped upside down in their garages. Things happened that we never imagined were possible.
It was the beginning of a new era of living with hurricanes. These days we have stronger homes and poorer insurance. Government at all levels is better trained and better prepared. But many billions of dollars of new construction has been built in the hurricane zone.
If you didn’t go through Andrew or didn’t see it, talk to a friend who did. It wasn’t as bad as you can imagine. It was worse.
TROPICAL STORM LAURA
Today’s storm, Tropical Storm Laura will pass South Florida well to the south. The atmospheric environment appears conducive for strengthening, but the Cuban landmass should inhibit anything radical from happening right away.
Fairly strong winds extend a good way north of the circulation, so this will be a windy day across the immediate coastal sections of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties as well as the Keys. In areas exposed to the ocean, in high rises, and on elevated roadways, the winds will be quite noticeable.
The strongest winds should come in about midday and last through the afternoon, except in the Lower and Middle Keys where they will last longer. As Laura strengthens after passing Cuba, the lower part of the Keys will be close enough to feel the winds on the back end of the storm.
In the Lower and Middle Keys, the winds could gust to 50 or 55 mph, and up to 40 mph elsewhere on the southeast coast. Inland sections will likely not feel the high gusts.
Laura looks discombobulated on the satellite, but is forecast to consolidate as it moves away on Tuesday. It will likely develop into a hurricane in the Gulf very quickly. The current forecast calls for Hurricane Laura to reach the Texas or Louisiana coast Wednesday night or Thursday morning as a Category 2 storm… with the acknowledgement that it could be significantly stronger.
The water is very warm, and the upper winds look conducive for strengthening. The only thing Laura might be lacking is time, and it probably has enough of that.
Destructive wind and deadly storm surge are both likely to be major threats.
This is shaping up to be the scenario that we feared this year: COVID plus a bad hurricane. We can only hope that something comes along to change things that’s not apparent now.
TROPICAL STORM MARCO
And then there’s Tropical Storm Marco, which is heading for the Louisiana coast today. Fortunately, Marco is being blasted with hostile upper-level winds, which are taking a toll. A weakening version of the storm is still forecast to be near the Louisiana coast south or southwest of New Orleans later tonight.
Even this weaker storm can cause problems in very vulnerable areas outside of the city, but the New Orleans levee system will not be challenged by this storm.
The Gulf is forecast to rise 2 to 4 feet above normal high-tide levels at the coast outside New Orleans and in southern Mississippi.
Marco is forecast to come ashore and die out well before Hurricane Laura arrives at the Gulf coast. In spite of the freaky graphics with two cones overlapping, it appears to be just a coincidence.
Neither storm independently is especially unusual. The fact that it hasn’t happened like this before is more because hurricanes are fairly infrequent events, than anything fundamental that keeps two storms from occurring in the same general area a couple of days apart.
ELSEWHERE IN THE TROPICS
Except for Marco and Laura, there don’t appear to be any threats in the offing. The African pipeline is still open, however, so we have to maintain our vigilance.