Tropical Storm Laura forms
The National Hurricane Center announced Friday morning that Tropical Storm Laura had formed with a projection slightly more south than Thursday’s model showed.
Laura’s path as of NHC’s 11 a.m. update showed the storm approaching south Florida as a tropical storm at 8 a.m. Monday and continuing west-northwest. Southwest Florida is slightly inside the “cone of uncertainty” on the storm’s most eastern track. Potential impacts could arrive as early as Monday and into Tuesday.
The storm is still too far out for forecasters to determine what impacts to Florida may be.
“The details of the long-range track and intensity forecasts remain more uncertain than usual since Laura is forecast to move near or over portions of the Greater Antilles through Monday,” said NHC’s update. “However, Laura could bring storm surge, rainfall, and wind impacts to portions of Cuba, the Bahamas, and Florida early next week and the northeast U.S. Gulf Coast by the middle of next week.”
According to the NHC, Laura is roughly 210 miles east-southeast of the northern Leeward Islands moving at 18 mph with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph.
Current projections show Laura forming as a hurricane by 8 a.m. Tuesday in the Gulf of Mexico heading towards northeast Florida and Alabama.
According to the NHC, Laura is expected to increase its forward speed in the next few days. Laura is expected to move near or over the northern Leeward Islands later Friday, near or over Puerto Rico Saturday morning and near the northern coast of Hispaniola late Saturday and early Sunday.
“Some slow strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours,” said the NHC report.
Tropical-storm-force winds are extending outward up to 150 miles from the center.
In a release on Thursday, Lee County Public Safety – Emergency Management Division announced it is actively monitoring the tropics and is prepared to respond if needed.
“Responding to and recovering from a disaster is truly a whole community effort and is everyone’s responsibility,” said Lee Mayfield, director of Lee County Public Safety – Emergency Management, in a statement. “At Lee County Public Safety we ask that you and your family do your part by creating a ‘Culture of Preparedness’ at home, and share this information with your friends and neighbors.”
According to county officials, if hurricane shelters are needed, protective measures will be taken to include spacing/social distancing, PPE (masks and hand sanitizer), additional cleaning and possible screening questions at registration to determine if an individual is ill. The county reiterated the encouragement of the public to have a plan to shelter with friends and family or in a hotel or motel outside of the announced evacuation zone(s) and use public shelters as an option of last resort.
Additional information is available at www.leegov.com/hurricane. County residents can also use mobile app “Lee Prepares” for real time information, emergency supply lists and more. Residents can also sign up for the county’s emergency notification system that allows registered users to receive telephone, text, and/or email alerts related to natural or man-made emergencies called “Alert Lee.” To sign up, visit AlertLee.com.
–Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj