For the first time in almost 90 years, two hurricanes could hit the U.S. Gulf Coast on the same day (or at least within 24 hours of each other). The last time this happened was on Sept. 5, 1933, according to Philip Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University who specializes in Atlantic basin seasonal hurricane forecasts.
Storm number one
Tropical Depression Thirteen (TD13) became Tropical Storm Laura late Friday morning and is churning in the Atlantic about 200 miles east-southeast of the northern Leeward Islands.
Laura is moving toward the west at 18 mph, and the National Hurricane Center (NHC) expects a general west to northwest motion at a faster forward speed for the next couple of days. Based on the NHC’s latest forecast track, TD13 will move near or over the northern Leeward Islands later Friday, then near or over Puerto Rico on Saturday morning and near the northern coast of the island of Hispaniola Saturday night or early Sunday.
Maximum sustained winds remain near 45 mph, with higher gusts. Gradual strengthening is likely, and Laura could become a Category 1 hurricane early next week as it moves into the Gulf of Mexico. Landfall as a hurricane is possible Wednesday between New Orleans, Louisiana and Tallahassee, Florida.
Tropical storm warnings are in place for the following areas: Puerto Rico, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Saba and St. Eustatius, St. Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, and Montserrat. Tropical storm force winds are likely Friday night through Sunday.
Laura could produce 3 to 6 inches of rainfall over Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic and the southern Haitian peninsula. Locally heavy rainfall could lead to flash flooding and urban flooding, as well as an increased potential for mudslides and roadblocks. Some rivers may overflow their banks.
The storm could drop 1 to 3 inches of rainfall in the remainder of Haiti, the northern Leeward Islands, the Turks and Caicos, and the southeast Bahamas. Isolated totals of 5 inches are possible.
Storm number two
Tropical Depression Fourteen (TD14) is located 160 miles off the coast of Honduras, heading toward the Yucatán Peninsula this weekend.
Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph, with higher gusts. Strengthening is forecast during the next couple of days, and TD14 will likely become a tropical storm later today.
The system should be near or at hurricane strength when it reaches the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico late Saturday. The NHC expects TD14 to weaken a bit as it moves across the Yucatán Saturday night. Then, it will regain strength Sunday as it moves offshore and enters the southern Gulf of Mexico. Parts of the Yucatán could see flash flooding and rainfall totals exceeding 6 inches.
Landfall as a hurricane is possible Tuesday or Tuesday between Corpus Cristi, Texas, and Lafayette, Louisiana.
The timing, intensity and precise landfall locations of the potential hurricanes are difficult to pin down at this point. But people on the U.S. Gulf Coast should be preparing now, as well as logistics companies.
So far, the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has set port condition ZULU for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. During port condition ZULU, the ports will remain closed to all vessel traffic unless specifically authorized by the Captain of the Port (COTP). Vessel cargo operations are suspended, including bunkering and lightering. The USCG may issue port restrictions along the Gulf Coast over the weekend.
The systems are battling it out to see which will become the next named storm first. The next two names on the list are Laura and Marco.