Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center say Tropical Storm Laura formed Friday morning, and is projected to impact Florida early next week as a major hurricane.
According to the 9 a.m. advisory, Laura is quickly making its way west near the Caribbean at about 21 mph about 230 miles east-southeast of the northern Leeward Islands. The storm currently has sustained winds of 45 mph.
It’s still too early to determine its exact path and strength over the next few days, but Laura is projected to hit the Florida Keys on Monday, and move over a portion of the Gulf of Mexico where it should be generally favorable for development, says the NHC.
“The upper-level winds over the Gulf of Mexico should be generally favorable for development if the cyclone doesn’t get too close to Tropical Depression Fourteen,” says the advisory. “The possibilities range from the system degenerating to an open wave as seen in the GFS and ECMWF to a major hurricane as seen in the HWRF.”
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 21, 2020
There is currently a tropical storm watch for the southeastern Bahamas, including the Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, the Inaguas, Mayaguana, and the Ragged Islands, as well as for the Turks and Caicos Islands, St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy. Also, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are under a tropical storm watch.
Meanwhile, Tropical Depression 14 is still looming 160 miles east of Isla Roatan Honduras, moving at about 12 mph towards theHonduras coastline. This storm has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.
TD 14 is expected to develop into a tropical storm by Friday evening, and at the point it will become Tropical Storm Marco.
The storm is expected to move over the Yucatan Peninsula late Saturday, and then into the warm waters of the Gulf, where forecasters say it is likely to strengthen into a hurricane by early Monday morning as it approaches the Texas coast line.
This story originally appeared in our sister paper Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.
Please follow CDC guidelines and Orange County advisories to stay safe, and please support this free publication. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida. Please consider making a one-time or monthly donation. Every little bit helps.