Marco loses strength but Tropical Storm Laura upgrades to hurricane; Louisiana, Texas issue emergency orders

Hurricane Laura NASA
On Monday, Aug. 24, at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, NASA’s Terra satellite provided a visible image of Tropical Storm Laura centered north of the Cayman Islands. The storm was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane on Tuesday, Aug. 25. (Courtesy: NASA Worldview)

BATON ROUGE, La., and AUSTIN, Texas — Tropical Storm Marco on Monday, Aug. 24, made landfall near the mouth of the Mississippi River. According to an Aug. 24 tweet from the National Hurricane Center, Marco has been downgraded from a tropical storm and has rapidly lost speed.

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Hurricane Laura Path
Hurricane Laura is expected to make landfall early Thursday, Aug. 27, with wind speeds of 115 mph. (Courtesy: The Weather Channel)

Residents and motorists in Louisiana and Texas should still brace for Tropical Storm Laura, which entered the Gulf of Mexico this morning (Aug. 25) and was upgraded to a Category 1 hurricane, according to The Weather Channel. The hurricane is gaining speed and strength, and is expected to make landfall along the Louisiana and Texas coast early Thursday morning (Aug. 27) at a speed of 115 mpg.

The governors of both Louisiana and Texas have declared a state of emergency/disaster.

On Friday, Aug. 21, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency in advance of potential landfall from Tropical Depression 14, expected to become Tropical Storm Marco, and Tropical Storm Laura. Click here to read the governor’s emergency declaration.

Monday, Aug. 24, Shawn Wilson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DODT) issued a statement expanding weight limits for commercial vehicles to 88,000 pounds, effective at 5 p.m. Aug. 24 and continuing until the order is revised, amended or lifted.

The statement specifies that the weight exemption applies “to commercial motor carriers traveling on public highways of the State of Louisiana for the purpose of emergency preparedness and disaster relief efforts” and notes that the order does not “allow any vehicle transporting commodities or fuel for disaster preparedness and relief to exceed weight limits posted for bridges and like structures, or relieve any vehicle or carrier, owner or driver of any vehicle from compliance with any restrictions other than those specified, or from any statute, rule, order or other legal requirement not specifically waived herein.” Click here to read Wilson’s statement.

The DODT also issued statements notifying motorists of the following closures/openings of flood gates and road gates:

  • State Highway 56: Flood gate closed .8 miles south of State Highway 57 in Cocodrie.
  • State Highway 39: Flood gate closed near the Plaquemines/St. Bernard Parish line in Caernarvon, Plaquemines Parish.
  • State Highway 47: Flood gate closed near Downman Road.
  • State Highway 39: Road gate closed in Plaquemines Parish.
  • State Highway 300: Road gate closed near State Highway 46 in St. Bernard Parish.
  • State Highway 23: Flood gate closed in Venice.
  • State Highway 665: Road gate closed in Terrebonne Parish.
  • S. 11: Flood gate open.
  • S. 90: Flood gate open in Orleans Parish.

In addition, the DODT announced that if conditions become too hazardous to operate the Black Bayou Bridge and Grand Lake Bridge, the department will follow the U.S. Coast Guard-approved protocol for movable bridges on the Intracoastal Waterway. Black Bayou and Grand Lake Bridges will remain in service for vehicle and marine traffic as long as it is safe to operate. If conditions become too hazardous to operate, the Black Bayou Bridge will remain open to motorists, and the Grand Lake Bridge will remain closed to motorists. Conditions are deemed too hazardous when 39 mpg sustained winds are detected. Motorists are advised that the following movable brides will remain in service until sustained wind speeds reach 39 mph:

  • Superior Canal, Mermentau River/Grand Chenier;
  • ICWW/Ellender; and
  • Kelso Bayou/Hackberry.

Drivers in Louisiana are encouraged to check for up-to-date information about road closures, ferry operations and other incidents.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbot on Sunday, Aug. 23, issued a state of disaster for the following 23 counties: Aransas, Bexar, Brazoria, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Liberty, Matagorda, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, and Willacy.

Abbot advised the public that the combined storms “pose a threat of imminent disaster, including widespread and severe property damage, injury, and loss of life due to widespread flooding, storm surge, and damaging winds.” Click here to read Abbot’s statement.

At the time of this writing, voluntary and mandatory evacuations have been ordered for communities in both states that are expected to be impacted by Hurricane Laura.

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