Yesterday I wrote in Forbes discussing the formation of Tropical Storm Gonzalo and how unusual it is to have the 7th named Atlantic storm in July. I also lamented that conditions are favorable for hurricane activity near the U.S. this season. In that article, I also hinted at the possibility of something forming in the Gulf of Mexico too. Here’s the latest on a possible tropical storm landfall in Texas and Hurricane Douglas affecting the Hawaiian Islands this weekend.
Let’s start with the system in the Gulf of Mexico. At the time of writing, it is currently Tropical Depression Eight, but the National Hurricane Center is forecasting the storm to become Tropical Storm Hanna, the eighth named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. We typically do not see the 8th named storm until around September 24th, which gives you an indication of why we are so concerned about above-normal activity this season.
Former National Hurricane Director Bill Read, who lives in Texas, posted the following alert on his social media page, “Although the official forecast (and supporting models) calls for only modest strengthening, the system is moving over the warm water of the open gulf and in a reasonably favorable atmospheric environment….The storm will have about 60 hours over the Gulf.” Whether the storm becomes Hanna or not, the impacts will be the same, gusty winds and up to 4-6 inches of rainfall for coastal Texas by the weekend.
Over in the Pacific basin, the National Hurricane Center is also monitoring Hurricane Douglas. According to the most recent NHC analysis, Douglas is currently a Major Hurricane with sustained winds of 120 mph. As you see from the NOAA climatological data below, it is rare for the 4th named storm in the Eastern Pacific basin to become a hurricane this early, and its virtually unprecedented to see a storm categorized as “major” (Category 3 or higher).
According to the National Hurricane Center, the Hurricane Douglas should gradually weaken as it moves over cooler water temperatures and encounters increased wind shear. However the official track forecast for Douglas included below suggests that it could still be a low-category hurricane or strong tropical storm by the time it reaches the Hawaiian Islands Saturday or Sunday.
It is worth a reminder that even as we watch these two systems, Tropical Storm Gonzalo is still making its way across the southern Atlantic and could pose a threat to parts of the Caribbean Islands this weekend also. Though we are all consumed with COVID-19, it is time to start becoming “hurricane aware” if you live in coastal regions because the season is already record-breaking and is ramping up as we approach the peak months. With a deadly pandemic, even more preparation will be required to deal evacuations and the impacts of hurricanes, flooding, and other weather extremes this season.