Lower, Middle Keys Under Tropical Storm Warning as Laura Begins Strike on Cuba

What to Know

  • The 11 a.m. advisory showed the system with winds of 65 miles per hour
  • A tropical storm warning has been issued from Key West northward to near Marathon
  • Laura caused the deaths of at least 11 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti

Parts of the Florida Keys remained on guard while Tropical Storm Laura continued to churn toward Cuba on Monday.

The 11 a.m. advisory from the National Hurricane Center in Miami showed the system with winds that went down to 60 miles per hour while it was about 65 miles east-southeast of Cayo Largo, Cuba, moving west-northwest at 21 mph.

A tropical storm warning was issued from Key West northward to near Marathon, areas that could expect tropical storm force winds and heavy rainfall starting as early as Monday morning.

Tropical storm warnings were also in effect for the Little Cayman and Cayman Brac, portions of Cuba, as well as the Dry Tortugas.

Monroe County ended its partial evacuation Sunday after Laura’s projected path moved away from the islands. Emergency managers said boats, mobile homes, recreational vehicles, trailers and campers are no longer being asked to leave the island chain.

NBC 6’s Jamie Guirola is in Key West, which was placed under a tropical storm warning early Monday morning.

They
are recommending that those who live on boats find shelter on land as seas are
expected to be rough as Laura passes to the west into the Gulf of Mexico. They
also asked that those who had already evacuated wait until Tuesday before
returning.

The National Weather Service said the Keys will see severe weather, isolated tornadoes, and coastal flooding three to six inches higher than king tides, especially on the Atlantic side. Residents and visitors should be aware of hazardous weather conditions in the Florida Keys starting Monday morning through Tuesday morning.

“Residents should continue to monitor the storm and be prepared for severe weather, 20-30 mph winds with gusts up to 50 mph, and strong squalls,” said Shannon Weiner, Monroe County Emergency Management Director. “Please secure all boats and outside items by this evening for this event.”

Laura was forecast to move along Cuba’s southern coast during the day before entering the Gulf of Mexico and heading toward a stretch of U.S. coast later in the week, most likely as powerful as a Category 2 hurricane.

Laura
caused the deaths of at least 11 people in the Dominican Republic and Haiti,
while knocking out power and causing flooding in the two nations that share the
island of Hispaniola.

Haitian
civil protection officials said they had received reports a 10-year-old girl
was killed when a tree fell on a home in the southern coastal town of
Anse-a-Pitres, on the border with the Dominican Republic. Haiti’s prime
minister said at least eight other people died and two were missing. In the
Dominican Republic, relatives told reporters a collapsed wall killed a mother
and her young son.

Hundreds
of thousands were without power in the Dominican Republic amid heavy flooding
in both countries.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Marco is expected to continue to head across the Gulf, reaching more strength when it approaches the northern Gulf Coast Monday. The storm will then slow down and move west Monday night, across southern Louisiana and into eastern Texas.

The 11 a.m. advisory had winds of 50 mph while the center sits just over 55 miles southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River and moving northwest at 8 mph.

A
Hurricane Watch was in effect from Intracoastal City, Louisiana to west of
Morgan City and Metropolitan New Orleans. Forecasters predict life-threatening
storm surge and hurricane-force winds along portions of the U.S. Gulf Coast.

If both storms survive the until Monday, the National Hurricane Center forecast that Laura would head as a hurricane toward the central Gulf Coast around Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle, while Marco aimed at Texas.

“A
lot of people are going to be impacted by rainfall and storm surge in the Gulf
of Mexico,” said Joel Cline, the tropical program coordinator for the National
Weather Service. “Since you simply don’t know you really need to make
precautions.”

Two hurricanes have never appeared in the Gulf
of Mexico at the same time, according to records going back to at least 1900,
said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The last
time two tropical storms were in the Gulf together was in 1959, he said.