OKEECHOBEE – Okeechobee County officials had been monitoring Tropical Depression 13, County Public Safety Officer Ralph Franklin told county commissioners at their meeting Thursday, Aug. 20. It since strengthened into Tropical Storm Laura, according to the National Hurricane Center, on Friday morning.
Franklin encouraged county residents to stay prepared for hurricane season.
Mitch Smeykal of the Emergency Operations Center said TD-14 is closer to the United States, near the Yucatan Peninsula, but not expected to hit Florida. He said the models indicated TD-13, now T.S. Laura, still could become Hurricane Laura. Models appear to predict it will go into the Gulf of Mexico, but those model tracks can change in the next few days, he added.
Tropical Depression 14 is not well organized right now but is expected to become Tropical Storm Marco, the NHS said.
In other business, the county commissioners renewed the state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Smeykal said the state said incident management teams are testing staff and patients at the long-term care facilities on a rotating basis. He said statewide, it seems the COVID-19 numbers are coming down.
“It seems the numbers are trending in the right direction,” he said.