Tropical Storm Marco Tracks Near the US Gulf Coast, While Tropical Storm Laura Follows Close Behind; Wildfires Continue to Blaze Across the State of California
MONDAY, AUGUST 24, 2020 AS OF 5:00 PM EDT
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association’s (NOAA) National Hurricane Center (NHC), Tropical Storm Marco is moving 50 miles per hour (mph) north-northwest at eight mph. Marco’s tropical storm force winds extended up to 105 miles from its center. The storm is projected to bring heavy winds to the Gulf Coast later today and has the potential to bring storm surge, heavy rainfall, and gusty winds to parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle. According to the NOAA NHC, Marco is expected to produce between three to five inches of rain across the Gulf coast through Tuesday, although it could potentially bring up to a maximum of 10 inches.
Additionally, according to NOAA NHC, Tropical Storm Laura is about 65 miles east-southeast from Cayo Largo in Cuba, moving west-northwestward at 20 mph with maximum sustained winds near 60 mph. Heavy rainfall and flash flooding has continued over the Cayman Islands, Jamaica, and parts of Cuba. The NOAA NHC also cautioned that hurricane and storm surge watches would “likely” be necessary for parts of the United States (US) northwest Gulf coast area by Monday evening, with an increased risk of dangerous storm surge, wind, and rainfall impact from the upper Texas coast across the north-central Gulf Coast starting on Wednesday.
While both storms were previously predicted to converge, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford reported Marco is unlikely to reach hurricane strength. However, if conditions continue for Marco and Laura on their trajectory to Louisiana, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said “there may not be much of a window” for rescuers or power restoration crews to provide emergency response to victims between both storms.
Both #Marco and #Laura could produce heavy rainfall and flash flooding across portions of the northern Gulf coast during the next several days, with @NWSWPC highlighting a moderate risk of flash flooding across southwestern Louisiana on Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/8GkQKIp8pq
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) August 24, 2020
Twitter: NOAA NHC
Over 1.42 million acres have burned since the August 15th lightning siege that started dozens of major fires and lightning complexes across California, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire). The LNU Lightning Complex (made up of the Hennessey Fire, Walbridge Fire, and Meyers Fire) is the largest of the active incidents within the state; encompassing Napa County, Sonoma County, Lake County, Yolo County, and Solano County. It has burned 350,030 acres to date. Cal Fire confirmed the blaze has been responsible for four fatalities and four injuries amongst fire personnel and civilians, and the blaze has damaged 234 structures and destroyed 871. The SCU Lightning Complex is another major complex that has spread across multiple locations in California; moving across Santa Clara County, Alameda County, Contra Costa County, San Joaquin County, and Stanislaus County. The fire has been active for five days but is only 10 percent contained at present.
Statewide fire map for Sunday, August 23. Tremendous efforts continue around the clock to protect California. Thank you to all supporting the mission! pic.twitter.com/eYPxTWeLxA
— Cal OES (@Cal_OES) August 23, 2020
Cal OES Fire Map: Twitter
On August 24, NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) issued a Red Flag Warning for the state for dry lightning and gusty erratic outflow winds over the current wildfires affecting California. The affected area includes the entirety of the San Francisco Bay Area and northern sections of the Central Coast. The NWS cautioned that isolated thunderstorms could pose a threat for new fires, with an increased chance that new fires might start with any lightning strike.
The state’s request for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration was approved on August 22 in an attempt to increase California’s emergency response capabilities for the Northern California wildfires, in addition to supporting impacted residents in Lake, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma, and Yolo Counties, according to the Office of California Governor Gavin Newsom. The support is on top of Newsom requesting aid from Australia and Canada to combat the blazes, stating that the fires are “an unprecedented moment” in California’s history. According to CBS News, 10 states, including Arizona, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, have provided firefighters and aircrafts in support of the effort.
EVACUATIONS AND EMERGENCY DECLARATIONS
The Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has declared a State of Emergency amid the scale and magnitude of fires that are burning throughout California.
Here’s the breakdown of public advisories from NOAA’s NWS in decreasing order of severity:
RED FLAG WARNINGS:
- Coastal North Bay Including Point Reyes National Seashore
- East Bay Hills and the Diablo Range
- East Bay Interior Valleys
- North Bay Interior Valleys
- North Bay Mountains
- Northern Monterey Bay
- San Francisco
- San Francisco Bay Shoreline
- San Francisco Peninsula Coast
- Santa Clara Valley Including San Jose
- Santa Cruz Mountains
- Central Sacramento Valley including Glenn, Colusa, Yuba, Northern Sutter, Butte County Below 1,000 Feet (Ft)
- Northern Sacramento Valley to Southern Tehama County Line Below 1,000 Ft
- Burney Basin and Northeast Plateau in Shasta County Including northwest Lassen NF north of Lassen NP
- Eastern Mendocino NF
- Eastern Portion of Shasta, Trinity NF
- Northern Sierra Foothills from 1,000 to 3,000 Ft. Includes Nevada-Yuba-Placer RU and Anador-Eldorado RU
- Southeast Edge Shasta, Trinity NF and Western Portions of Tehama, Glenn RU
- Eastern Lassen County
- Surprise Valley California
Air Quality Alert:
- San Joaquin
- Remember, Ready.gov provides information on how to prepare for Wildfires and how to keep you and your family safe.
- The Los Angeles Times regularly updated tracking of California Wildfires: California Wildfires Map.
- The National Fire Protection Association provides wildfire preparedness tips: link
- Marin County provides a wildfire evacuation checklist: link
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides an information video about how to be prepared for Wildfires: link
Here’s the breakdown of public advisories from NOAA’s NHC:
TROPICAL STORM WARNING:
- Remember, during a storm, it is important to follow the directions of your state and local officials. Ready.gov provides information on how to prepare for a storm and how to keep you and your family safe throughout.
- Understanding the meaning of hurricane maps – a NY Times Opinion Piece: Those Hurricane Maps Don’t Mean What You Think They Mean