The “one-two punch” of hurricanes has created a heightened sense of alarm along the Gulf Coast. Officials warned residents they might have to shelter in place for as long as 72 hours.
ATLANTA — As Hurricane Marco barreled toward Louisiana as a Category 1 storm, officials urged residents on Sunday to seek higher ground and make sure they were stocked up on food and supplies. They were repeating a message that is part of a predictable summer routine on the Gulf Coast as hurricane season reaches its climax.
But this time, there was added urgency: Another storm, one predicted to be even more powerful, is expected to pummel the same stretch of the coast not even 48 hours later.
“You need to be prepared to ride out the storms, you and your family, wherever you are at dark tonight,” Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana told residents during a briefing on Sunday, warning that they might be sheltering in place for as long as 72 hours. The looming second storm, Laura, he added, could ground search and rescue teams and delay efforts to restore electricity.
Even for a region familiar with the dangers of hurricanes and the rhythms of responding to them, the threat of tandem storms stirred a heightened sense of alarm. It is so rare of an occurrence that meteorologists strained to find more than a couple of comparable instances over the past century.
Mr. Edwards, a Democrat who has presided over storm responses during five hurricane seasons as governor, described the situation as “a challenge that, quite frankly, we’ve not seen before.” Other hurricane veterans said it underscored the surprises that come each season. “Hurricanes are unpredictable, no matter how much science we have,” said Richard Zuschlag, the chief executive of Acadian Ambulance based in Lafayette, which is in the paths of both storms.