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Gulf Coast braces for 2 potential hurricanes days apart

Two intensifying tropical storms have barreled past the Caribbean, pouring rain down on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as they take aim at the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Why it matters: Per NOAA, Tropical Storms Laura and Marco are forecast to strike Louisiana's coast this week at or near hurricane strength as the state continues to battle the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Storm surge, flash flood, tropical storm and hurricane watches are in effect ahead of Marco's expected arrival on Monday, the National Weather Service said. Laura is due to hit Wednesday.
  • Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach told AP two hurricanes have never struck the Gulf of Mexico in the same week since records began some 120 years ago.

What to expect: The National Hurricane Center warned late Saturday there could be a prolonged period of hazardous weather. The area between coastal Mississippi and northeast Texas was under threat from Marco and the region spanning Alabama's coast to Louisiana in line for Laura as of Sunday morning, though this was subject to change.

What they're saying: Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) urged residents via Twitter to account for COVID-19 in their precautions, ensuring they have masks and sanitation supplies if they do leave home, noting: "This is unlike anything we've seen."

  • He said had requested a federal disaster declaration from the White House ahead of the storms' arrival.
  • Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency at a news briefing on Saturday. "We are in unprecedented times," he said. "We are dealing with not only two potential storms in the next few hours; we are also dealing with COVID-19."

The big picture: Laura formed near the Leeward Islands on Friday morning.

  • AP reports the tropical storm on Saturday left some 200,000 customers without power and over 10,000 with no water in Puerto Rico after downing trees in the south — an area still recovering from 2017's Hurricane Maria and which was hit by a series of earthquakes earlier this year.
  • Marco formed in the northwestern Caribbean on Friday night. It was initially forecast to sweep over Mexico's Yucatán state, but it moved further east.

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