Texas and Louisiana prepare for double storm hit

Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura, which hit the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico on Sunday August 23rd, are approaching Texas and Louisiana through the Gulf of Mexico.

Marco, which strengthened on Sunday with sustained winds of 75mph, was forecast to make landfall along the Louisiana coast on Monday. Laura, which hit the Dominican Republic and Haiti earlier on Sunday before striking Cuba on Sunday evening, was forecast to strengthen into a hurricane before making landfall in Texas or Louisiana on Thursday.

US President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration on Sunday for Louisiana.

Laura was threatening to strengthen into a Category 2 or 3 hurricane and to move west, closer to Houston, said Chris Kerr, a meteorologist at energy, agriculture and weather data provider DTN.

Back-to-back hurricanes hitting the US coast within days could result in a prolonged period of hazardous weather, the US National Hurricane Centre said on Sunday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has sent teams to operations centres in Louisiana and Texas, spokesman Earl Armstrong said.

In Grand Isle, at Louisiana’s southern tip energy companies pulled workers from offshore platforms and shut down oil production.

Equinor has finished evacuating its Titan oil-production platform in the US Gulf of Mexico and shut-in oil production at the facility. BHP Group Plc also shut and evacuated its Shenzi and Neptune oil platforms.

Oil producers, including BP Plc, Chevron Corp and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, had shut 58% of the Gulf’s offshore oil production and 45% of natural gas production on Sunday. The region accounts for 17% of total U.S. oil production and 5% of US natural gas output.

As of Monday afternoon, Tropical Storm Laura was on the cusp of becoming a hurricane as it neared the Gulf of Mexico, but Tropical Storm Marco was weakening as it approached Louisiana.

Laura’s forecast path now sees the storm hitting land as a hurricane near the Texas-Louisiana border late on Wednesday or early on Thursday — a prediction that has shifted to the west in recent days.