Tropical Storm Laura Should Skirt Northern Edge of St. Thomas Tonight: NHC
MIAMI — Tropical Storm Laura formed this morning while making its way west-northwest near the Caribbean with St. Thomas lying in its path, the National Hurricane Center said in a special 9 a.m. update.
Laura’s future is unclear as the storm faces a number of factors that could stymie its growth and others that would promote it as it stays on track towards St. Thomas, St. John and the British Virgin Islands.
As of 9:05 a.m., Laura was situated about 120 miles east of St. John’s, Antigua in the Leeward Islands, and 390 miles east-southeast of Puerto Rico. The storm had 45 mph maximum sustained winds and was moving west at 21 mph.
PROJECTED WIND SPEEDS OF TROPICAL STORM LAURA
“The possibilities range from the system degenerating to an open wave as seen in the GFS (American model) and ECMWF (European model) to a major hurricane,” the NHC said.
Other meteorologists are more confident Laura will become a hurricane at some point, as will Tropical Depression 14 as it heads toward Texas, said FOX 35 meteorologist Jayme King early today.
“Both will become a hurricane, and possibly two hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time,” King said.
If TD 14 becomes a tropical storm it will be named Marco.
If Laura and Marco do threaten the Gulf Coast as tropical storms Monday or Tuesday in a 24-hour period, it will be the first time that has happened since the Great Depression of 1933.
Laura is 255 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands. Further strengthening as a tropical storm is expected today, and long-term projections have it near the Florida Keys on Monday as a Category 1 hurricane before moving into the Gulf of Mexico.
Laura is expected to move near or north of the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by Saturday.
There is 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. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are also under a tropical storm watch.
A tropical wave off the coast of Africa is also moving west this morning.
The wave is a large area of disorganized showers and is expected to move farther off shore at a speed of 15 to 20 mph.
Environmental factors are not conducive to its development but it has a 20 percent chance of becoming a tropical depression or tropical storm in the next two days and a 50 percent chance of doing so in the next five.