Hurricane Paulette is approaching Bermuda and expected to begin dumping rain on the territory late Sunday. Tropical Storm Sally is also threatening the Gulf Coast.
National Hurricane Center
National Hurricane Center
Hurricane Paulette is approaching Bermuda and expected to begin dumping rain on the territory late Sunday. Tropical Storm Sally is also threatening the Gulf Coast.
National Hurricane Center
In what has already been an active hurricane season, storm watchers are closely monitoring a pair of weather systems that threaten to deliver more damage.
Hurricane Paulette is rolling toward Bermuda and expected to bring heavy rainfall along the coast beginning Sunday night, according to the National Hurricane Center. The NHC said Paulette is expected to be a “dangerous hurricane.”
Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Sally is threatening to grow into a hurricane as it moves toward the Gulf Coast. The storm is expected to hit New Orleans and surrounding areas as a hurricane by Tuesday morning, according to the NHC.
Residents of Bermuda were urged to protect life and property ahead of Paulette, which intensified into a hurricane late Saturday and is forecast to bring strong winds, coastal flooding and storm surge to the territory, hurricane officials said.
The storm is moving towards Bermuda with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph, forecasters said. Beginning late Sunday, forecasters expect Paulette to bring up to 6 inches of rain and “life-threatening surf and rip current conditions.”
Paulette was 240 miles southeast of Bermuda on Sunday morning and moving northwest at 14 mph. The center of the storm is forecast to move near or over Bermuda Monday morning.
Bermuda’s government announced it would close L.F. Wade International Airport on Sunday night. Schools and government buildings will also close on Monday and Tuesday.
Along parts of the Gulf Coast, residents are similarly bracing as a hurricane warning is now in effect from Morgan City, La., to Ocean Springs, Miss. Forecasters expect Sally to bring life-threatening storm surge, hurricane-force winds and heavy rainfall starting on Monday.
As of Sunday morning, the tropical storm had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph with stronger gusts, forecasters said. A slow moving storm, Sally could dump up to 20 inches of rain on parts of the central Gulf Coast by the middle of the week.
If peak storm surge coincides with high tide, the water along the mouth of the Mississippi River to Ocean Springs, Mississippi, including Lake Borgne could rise between 7 and 11 feet. Other areas could see storm surge between 4 and 7 feet.
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency ahead of Sally on Saturday, and urged residents to follow directions from local officials. The mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, ordered residents living beyond the levee system to evacuate.
Sally approaches just two weeks after Hurricane Laura brought a massive storm surge to the southwestern Louisiana coast. Edwards said in a news conference Saturday that Sally “has the potential to be very serious.”
“Barely two weeks ago, Louisiana suffered a devastating blow when Hurricane Laura came ashore as the strongest hurricane ever to make landfall in Louisiana history, leaving a trail of destruction in its path,” he said. “This, when combined with the COVID-19 pandemic, can make us all weary. I implore Louisianans to take their preparations seriously.”
Tropical Storm Sally formed Saturday just 35 miles southeast of Naples, according to the National Hurricane Center. It is expected to continue strengthening as it moves through the Gulf of Mexico and away from Florida.
It could become a Category 1 hurricane late Monday as it approaches the Gulf Coast.
Sally had sustained winds of 40 miles per hour and was moving north-northwest at 7 mph, according to the hurricane center’s 5 p.m. Saturday advisory. It doesn’t pose much of a threat to Tampa Bay, which is already out of its potential path, but the storm will continue to bring heavy rains and potential flooding.
“The center is ill-defined but it has a chance of strengthening in these warm waters,” said Spectrum Bay News 9 Chief Meteorologist Mike Clay. “Even though it misses us, we’re still going to get a lot of weather up our way that will up our rain chances.”
Satellite-derived wind data indicate that Tropical Storm #Sally has formed and is centered just off the southwest coast of Florida. Maximum sustained winds are 40 mph. https://t.co/wVCrCIjDrB pic.twitter.com/KC7Bq1Vror
— National Hurricane Center (@NHC_Atlantic) September 12, 2020
The National Weather Service estimates 2 to 3 inches of rain will fall in Pinellas County, 1.5 inches in Hillsborough and less for Pasco and Hernando.
The hurricane center expects Sally to move over the southeastern and eastern Gulf of Mexico later today and Sunday, before a Wednesday landfall near the Louisiana-Mississippi border as a hurricane.
Sally is the 18th named storm of the 2020 storm season and set a record as the earliest “S” storm on record, beating out Tropical Storm Stan, which formed on Oct. 2, 2005. Elsewhere in the Atlantic, the hurricane center upped the likelihood of two other systems strengthening into named storms to 90 percent and 60 percent.
The next named storms of this season will be Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred. After that, meteorologists will start naming storms after Greek letters such as Alpha, Beta, Gamma, etc, which hasn’t happened since 2005, when there were 27 named storms.
Sally will raise the chance of rain in the bay area to 90 percent on Sunday and Monday, with a slight drop to 80 percent on Tuesday. The weather service issued a flood warning Saturday that could be extended to Sunday.
Elsewhere in the Atlantic, the hurricane center said another tropical depression formed not far off the coast of Africa and is moving west. And another system near there is expected to strengthen into a tropical depression next week.
Tropical Storm Paulette was also expected to strengthen into a hurricane on Saturday night and threatens Bermuda.
• • •
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Rene, which formed Monday as the Atlantic’s earliest known 17th named “R”-storm, broke the previous record of Rita, which formed Sept. 18, 2005.
As of 11 a.m. ET, the storm is located about 100 miles west-northwest of the Cabo Verde Islands, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph as it moves west at 16 mph.
Tropical Storms Rene and Paulette can be seen over the Atlantic Ocean on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.
A tropical storm warning remains in effect for the Cabo Verde Islands, where gusty winds and rainfall will continue through Tuesday before the storm curves away from the west-northwest.
“Little change in strength is expected today, followed by gradual strengthening on Thursday and Friday,” the NHC said. “Rene is forecast to become a hurricane in a couple of days.”
Forecast models show the storm staying at sea for the foreseeable future.
The forecast track of Tropical Storms Paulette and Rene.
Rene was one of two storms that formed Monday; Tropical Storm Paulette took shape earlier in the day in the central Atlantic, far from land.
Paulette now has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph, with modest strengthening expected over the next few days.
The storm was centered about 1,285 miles west of the Cabo Verde Islands and moving northwest at 6 mph, posing no current threats to land.
Forecasters from the NHC said that Paulette would possibly be near hurricane strength by Monday night before gradual weakening starts to take place.
Tropical models show that Paulette will draw closer to Bermuda by next week.
Bermuda may need to monitor Paulette next week, but for now, the storm isn’t expected to strengthen significantly this week.
Another disturbance southwest of Bermuda has a slight chance of gaining some tropical organization later this week as it approaches the Carolinas, but isn’t a major concern at this time.
Historically, September produces the most Atlantic Ocean basin tropical activity. The two current tropical storms are the earliest 16th and 17th named storms, continuing a trend during the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
Tropical activity historically climbs through Sept. 10, when it peaks and starts to slowly go back down.
Hurricane season peaks on Sept. 10, and then starts to decrease.
The patterns during the peak of hurricane season that influence where storms travel.
NOAA forecasters are now calling for up to 25 named storms with winds of 39 mph or higher; of those, seven to 10 could become hurricanes. Among those hurricanes, three to six will be major, classified as Category 3, 4, and 5 with winds of 111 mph or higher.
The names of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
That’s far above an average year. Based on 1981-to-2010 data, that is 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. So far this year, there have been 17 named storms, including five hurricanes.
The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30 and includes the names Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, Isaias, Josephine, Kyle, Laura, Marco, Nana, Omar, Paulette, Rene, Sally, Teddy, Vicky and Wilfred.
Fox News’ Adam Klotz and Brandon Noriega contributed to this report.
Tropical Storm Marco is forecast to become a hurricane prior to striking the northern Gulf Coast on Monday, where it could bring storm surge, heavy rainfall and strong winds to parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
A hurricane warning is now in effect for a portion of the Louisiana coast, from Morgan City to the Mouth of the Pearl River. Hurricane conditions are possible by midday Monday in this area.
A storm surge warning has also been issued from Morgan City, Louisiana, to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. This means there is a danger of life-threatening inundation from rising water moving into the coastline.
Tropical storm warnings along with hurricane and tropical storm watches have been issued for other parts of the northern Gulf Coast. New Orleans is currently under a tropical storm warning and hurricane watch.
The center of Marco is less than 400 miles south of Louisiana. It’s located well to the west of Tropical Storm Laura, which is a separate system tracking through the Greater Antilles.
Marco is a small tropical storm with most of its thunderstorm activity on the eastern and northeastern side of this system.
Tropical moisture from Marco is already causing showers and thunderstorms to spread into parts of the Gulf Coast. Rainfall will increase in this area through Monday.
Path and Intensity
Marco will approach the Louisiana and Mississippi coast on Monday. It’s not yet certain if the system will plow straight inland and make landfall, or instead turn and drift westward near or along the Louisiana coast.
The main driver of the intensity forecast will be a battle between the favorable effects of warm water temperatures and unfavorable upper-level winds.
At this time, the National Hurricane Center is forecasting Marco to be a Category 1 hurricane when it makes its closest approach to Louisiana and Mississippi on Monday. Marco should then weaken quickly through Tuesday because of land interaction and the previously-mentioned hostile winds in the upper atmosphere.
Marco is expected to bring a surge of water from the Gulf of Mexico to parts of the coastline from Louisiana eastward to coastal Alabama, which could become life-threatening.
The highest storm surge usually occurs near and east of the path of a tropical storm or hurricane.
Right now, the highest surge from Marco is predicted to be from southeast Louisiana to a portion of coastal Mississippi. Water levels could reach 4 to 6 feet above normal in these areas if the peak surge arrives at the time of high tide. Monday’s high tide in these areas will be early in the morning.
Since Marco is small, it will not produce a widespread area of heavy rainfall, however, localized flash flooding is still expected.
The area with the greatest chance of seeing some flash flooding on Monday is from southeast Louisiana into coastal parts of Mississippi and Alabama.
Rainfall totals are forecast to be 2 to 4 inches, but locally up to 6 inches could soak some areas.
Tropical-storm-force winds will arrive on the northern Gulf Coast by early Monday. Hurricane conditions could occur in a smaller area near where Marco approaches the coastline.
Marco’s strongest winds will not be widespread, but there could be some tree damage and power outages, particularly in areas where a hurricane warning or a tropical storm warning is in effect.
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A rare storm packing 100 mph winds and with power similar to an inland hurricane swept across the Midwest on Monday, blowing over trees, flipping vehicles, causing widespread property damage and leaving hundreds of thousands without power as it moved through Chicago and into Indiana and Michigan.
The storm, known as a derecho, lasted several hours as it tore from eastern Nebraska across Iowa and parts of Wisconsin and Illinois, had the wind speed of a major hurricane, and likely caused more widespread damage than a normal tornado, said Patrick Marsh, science support chief at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
In northern Illinois, the National Weather Service reported a wind gust of 92 mph near Dixon, about 100 miles west of Chicago, and the storm left downed trees and power lines that blocked roadways in Chicago and its suburbs. After leaving Chicago, the most potent part of the storm system moved over north central Indiana by late afternoon.
A derecho is not quite a hurricane. It has no eye and its winds come across in a line. But the damage it is likely to do spread over such a large area is more like an inland hurricane than a quick more powerful tornado, Marsh said. He compared it to a devastating Super Derecho of 2009, which was one of the strongest on record and traveled more than 1,000 miles in 24 hours, causing $500 million in damage, widespread power outages and killing a handful of people.
“This is our version of a hurricane,” Gensini said in an interview from his home about 15 minutes before the storm was about to hit. Minutes later, he headed to his basement for safety as the storm took aim at Chicago, starting with its suburbs.
Gensini said this derecho will go down as one of the strongest in recent history and be one of the nation’s worst weather events of 2020.
Several people were injured and widespread property damage was reported in Marshall County in central Iowa after 100 mph winds swept through the area, according to county homeland security coordinator Kim Elder. She said the winds blew over trees, ripped road signs out of the ground and tore roofs off of buildings.
“We had quite a few people trapped in buildings and cars,” she said. Elder said the extent of injuries is unknown and that no fatalities have been reported.
Elder said some people reported their cars flipping over from the wind, having power lines fall on them and getting injured when hit by flying debris. Dozens of cars at one factory had windshields blown out. Buildings have also caught on fire, she said.
“We’re in life-saving mode right now,” Elder said.
MidAmerican Energy said nearly 101,000 customers in the Des Moines area were without power after the storm moved through the area. Reports from spotters filed with the National Weather Service in Des Moines had winds in excess of 70 mph.
Across the state, large trees fell on cars and houses. Some semi-trailers flipped over or were blown off highways. Farmers reported that some grain bins were destroyed and fields were flattened, but the extent of damage to Iowa’s agriculture industry wasn’t immediately clear.
MidAmerican spokeswoman Tina Hoffman said downed trees are making it difficult in some locations for workers to get to the power lines. In some cases, power line poles were snapped off.
“It’s a lot of tree damage. Very high winds. It will be a significant effort to get through it all and get everybody back on,” she said. “It was a big front that went all the way through the state.”
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, has “both significant and widespread damage throughout the city,” said public safety spokesman Greg Buelow. Tens of thousands of people in the metro area were without power.
“We have damage to homes and businesses, including siding and roofs damaged,” he said. “Trees and power lines are down throughout the entire city.”
Derechoes, with winds of at least 58 mph, occur about once a year in the Midwest. Rarer than tornadoes but with weaker winds, derechoes produce damage over a much wider area.
The storms raced over parts of eastern Nebraska before 9 a.m. Monday, dropping heavy rains and high winds. Strong straight-line winds pushed south into areas that include Lincoln and Omaha, National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Barjenbruch said.
“Once that rain-cooled air hit the ground, it surged over 100 miles, sending incredibly strong winds over the area,” Barjenbruch said.
Omaha Public Power District reported more than 55,500 customers without power in Omaha and surrounding communities.
Marsh said there’s a huge concern about power outages that will be widespread across several states and long lasting. Add high heat, people with medical conditions that require power, and the pandemic, “it becomes dire pretty quickly.”
Downed power lines has closed an intersection in Easthampton and has left more than 1,200 homes and businesses without power as Tropical Storm Isaias moves into Western Massachusetts.
Several communities including Agawam, Wilbraham and Springfield are also reporting trees and limbs have fallen partially blocking roadways.
The intersection of Loudville and Torrey streets in Easthampton was closed at about 3:30 p.m. after power lines came down making it impassable, Easthampton Police said.
Eversource is reporting 518 homes and businesses are without power.
There is also an outage in Agawam that has left 386 customers without electricity. Other outages are in Becket where 110 customers are without power, Otis where 72 homes and businesses are affected, Dalton where 97 customers are without power and Southampton where 102 people have no electricity. Crews are heading to all locations, Eversource and police said.
Storm Isaias is expected to bring high winds and heavy rains as it moves north through the region. It is expected to dump between 1 and 3 inches of rain on the region and some areas of the Berkshires could see as much as 4 inches of rain. Winds of 25 to 30 mph are expected and gusts could reach 50 mph, according to Christopher Besse, spokesman for the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
There is also potential for tornados in Western Massachusetts, especially along the Connecticut River Valley, he said.
The Chicopee City Council has also canceled its regularly scheduled meeting for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday because of the story. City Hall also closed at 3:30 p.m. to allow employees to get home safely, Mayor John L. Vieau said.
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One person was killed when a large tree fell on a moving car in Maryland as Tropical Storm Isaias thrust damaging wind gusts, several inches of rainfall and life-threatening flash flooding into the D.C. area.
Leonardtown in St. Mary’s County and Chesapeake Beach in Calvert County were hit by tornadoes, the National Weather Service confirmed. They are looking into reports of other tornadoes in the area.
Heavy rain and a tornado devastated parts of St. Mary’s County leaving it in a state of emergency until Tuesday. News4’s Tracee Wilkins reports from Chaptico.
Isaias dumped nearly 8 inches of rain on Mechanicsville, Maryland, and more than 2 inches on D.C. and then moved past the Chesapeake Bay by noon and skittered up the East Coast.
The D.C. area is unlikely to see more dramatic downpours or flash flooding for the rest of Tuesday. Many neighborhoods are expected to remain dry.
News4’s Megan McGrath went to Neeld Estate in Calvert County and spoke to residents about the damage left behind by Tropical Storm Isaias.
Floods and coastal flooding remain moderate concerns, Storm Team4 Meteorologist Amelia Draper says.
A flood warning is still in effect in parts of Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles and Prince George’s counties. Here’s a full list of weather alerts.
News4’s Adam Tuss takes a look at the damage left behind by Tropical Storm Isaias in Chesapeake Beach.
Storm Team4 declared a weather alert because many roads could still be flooded. Never drive into a flooded roadway.
Any afternoon sunshine will give a small break to those cleaning up storm damage. Southern Maryland was hit particularly hard and a series of tornado warnings were issued.
Chopper4 flew above Maryland and captured the damage left behind by Tropical Storm Isaias. St. Mary’s County was among the hardest-hit spots. According to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, just over 7 inches of rain fell and a tornado touched down there.
St. Mary’s County was among the hardest-hit spots. According to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, just over 7 inches of rain fell and a tornado touched down there. State road crews responded to 14 incidents in the county, more than anywhere else.
One person was killed in St. Mary’s County when a large tree toppled onto a moving car. Deputies from the St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 29500 block of Three Notch Road in Mechanicsville at about 9:30 a.m. A huge tree fell onto the car’s roof, trapping the driver. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Their identity is being withheld pending notification of their family.
Rescuers were seen trying to help the trapped occupant. The tree that fell had a root system at least six feet wide, NBC4’s Tracee Wilkins reported.
The sheriff’s office initially told News4 that one person was dead and another was injured. Police later confirmed that one person, the sole occupant, had died.
Serious thunderstorms capable of producing tornados rolled over St. Mary’s early Tuesday, downing trees and flooding roads. A tornado was observed near Leonardtown, Maryland, the National Weather Service says. The twister toppled trees but no injuries were reported.
St. Mary’s Sheriff Tim Cameron warned that most roadways became “impassable and dangerous” and that multiple people needed to be rescued from high water.
“It was incredible how much the water level was raised,” Cameron said. “The traditional areas flooded right away and then some other areas too.”
In Montgomery County, another person was injured when a tree fell across West Lake Drive. They are expected to recover.
When peeks of the sun began shining through at about noon, tens of thousands were still without power. Most were SMECO customers in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties or Dominion Energy customers in Northern Virginia.
Streets near the Potomac River in Old Town Alexandria were inundated with ankle-high water. In Fairfax County, Old Courthouse Road, Browns Mill Road, Burke Road and Lawyers Road were among those closed due to flooding.
Sligo Creek Parkway from University to Dennis Avenue was closed, as was Forest Glen to Colesville Road.
Trees were knocked down in D.C., closing 10th Street NE and 27th Street Northwest.
Tropical Storm Isaias dumped inches of rain onto Old Town Alexandria, flooding roads. News4’s Lauryn Ricketts reports live.
Isaias weakened to a tropical storm as it made landfall overnight near Ocean Isle Beach, North Carolina.
Metro closed the Red Line station in Cleveland Park and King Street’s Cameron Street entrance as safety precautions.
Residents and business owners began piling up sandbags and crews cleaned out storm drains Monday in preparation for Tropical Storm Isaias. News4’s Adam Tuss reports.
Dangerous winds will be mainly a concern east of I-95 as the storm passes over the Chesapeake Bay.
Crews in the region stacked sandbags, cleared debris from drains and put tree-removal teams on standby Monday.
A coastal flood warning is in effect. The National Weather Service says the unprotected area on the Southwest Waterfront at the DC Seafood Market is expected to flood. Water is also expected to approach parts of the Hains Point Loop Road.
Moderate coastal flooding is also possible at times of high tide Tuesday as Isaias makes its closest approach to the area.
News4’s Jackie Bensen and Shomari Stone have team coverage of how D.C. suburbs are preparing for Isaias as it approaches the region.
In anticipation of the storm, D.C. closed all meal and grocery distribution sites and COVID-19 testing sites, including at fire stations, on Tuesday.
In case of power outages, make sure you have on hand non-perishable food and enough drinking water to last a few days. Other emergency items to have include extra medication, face masks and hand sanitizer. Charge up your devices early and know where to find flashlights and candles.
You should also secure any loose objects outside your home, such as lawn furniture.
Remember, never drive into a flooded roadway.
Lorenzo Reyes, USA TODAY
Published 10:01 a.m. ET July 26, 2020 | Updated 6:13 p.m. ET July 26, 2020
The Bob Hall Pier was damaged from Hurricane Hanna. On Sunday, July 26, 2020, the extent of the damage became more clear.
Corpus Christi Caller Times
Hanna weakened into a tropical depression as it moved from southern Texas to northeastern Mexico on Sunday, leaving rain, flooding and damage.
The National Hurricane Center said in its 4 p.m. CDT advisory that Hanna, which reached Texas shores as a hurricane Saturday, was about 35 miles west southwest of Monterrey, Mexico, and had maximum sustained winds of 35 mph.
“Additional weakening is expected as the center of Hanna moves farther inland,” the weather center said.
Rain totals of 6-12 inches in the area – with up to 16 inches in some locations – “will produce life-threatening flash flooding, rapid rises on small streams and isolated minor river flooding in South Texas,” the advisory said.
Live updates: Hanna slams Corpus Christi-area with flooding, damage
USA TODAY hurricane tracker:Track all of the tropical storms and hurricanes
Liz Sommerville, a senior forecaster for the National Weather Service, said there is a chance of severe thunderstorms all day Sunday and strong winds, heavy rain and low-line, coastal flooding in the region, especially in the northern and southern parts of Port Aransas.
Flooding could reach 2 to 3 feet.
American Electric Power Texas reported that as of 6 a.m. local time, 194,400 customers in the Corpus Christi, Laredo and Rio Grande Valley regions were without power, down from a peak of 197,630.
Hanna made landfall at 5 p.m. Saturday at Padre Island as a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 90 mph. By 1 a.m. CDT Sunday, Hanna had weakened into a tropical storm. At 12:49 p.m., the city of Corpus Christi announced in a news release there were no fatalities from Hanna.
Bringing maximum sustained winds of 85 mph, Hurricane Douglas swirled about 85 miles east of Kahului, Hawaii, and about 140 miles east of Honolulu, the NHC said.
As part of its 11 a.m. HST update, the NHC indicated that Douglas was moving west-northwest at about 16 mph. That track is expected to continue over the next couple of days.
“Douglas will pass dangerously close to, or over, the islands today, bringing a triple threat of hazards, including, but not limited to, damaging winds, flooding rainfall and dangerously high surf,” the NHC said Sunday.
The NHC said that “gradual weakening” is likely over the next two days but that Douglas is expected to remain a hurricane as it passes Hawaii.
Douglas is projected to generate 5 to 10 inches of total rain accumulations from Maui County, westward to Kauai County. The NHC warned that up to 15 inches of rain was possible in elevated terrain.
Contributing: Meagan Falcon, Corpus Christi Caller Times
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Tropical Storm Gonzalo formed on Wednesday in the central Atlantic Basin, about midway between the West African coast and the islands of the Lesser Antilles. At first it was expected to stay a tropical storm, but the National Hurricane Center has now revised its forecast to increase the chances it will become a hurricane Thursday night or Friday, before it approaches the southern Caribbean by the end of the week.
As of Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center said a hurricane watch is in effect for the islands of Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Gonzalo had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and is moving to the west at about 14 mph. The storm is forecast to reach the southern Lesser Antilles by Saturday.
While the future track of Gonzalo appears fairly straightforward, the intensity is very uncertain. The computer models meteorologists use to forecast these systems are split into two camps. The global computer models, like the well-known European model, show the system weakening as it reaches the Lesser Antilles and Caribbean. But specialized tropical models are more robust, showing the storm strengthening to a hurricane and remaining that way through the next 5 days.
There is no telling which group of models will prove correct, but so far the tropical models seem to be doing a better job. That is partly because Gonzalo is a small system and these tropical models are able to better analyze smaller-scale features.
Often small systems can shield themselves from the surrounding environment. In this case there is dry air around the system. The stronger tropical models keep the influence of dry air to a minimum by cocooning, or protecting, the storm, allowing it to strengthen. The larger-scale models allow the dry air to feed in, weakening the storm’s structure and thunderstorms.
Regardless of what happens next, Gonzalo is already one for the record books. It is the earliest 7th named system of any Atlantic season on record.
Meanwhile, in the eastern Pacific Ocean, a hurricane may threaten the Big Island of Hawaii by Saturday. As of Thursday morning Hawaii time, Hurricane Douglas is major hurricane — Category 3 — with winds of 120 mph. The system is located 1,300 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, moving west-northwest at 20 mph. Douglas is forecast to approach the Big Island of Hawaii by later Saturday into Sunday morning. At the present time it appears the system will weaken some, but it may still be a hurricane or strong tropical storm when it reaches Hawaii.
By the end of the week there may be yet another named system approaching the U.S. Gulf Coast. The National Hurricane Center is monitoring a broad area of low pressure with a disorganized cluster of storms over the central Gulf of Mexico. The chance of development has now increased to 80%, with a tropical depression or tropical storm is likely to form by Friday. Either way it will likely bring gusty winds and heavy downpours into Texas by Friday and Saturday.
One reason for the active season so far has been unusually warm waters in the tropical Atlantic, and that seems to be continuing. Gonzalo marks the beginning of the second phase of hurricane season, which is called the Cape Verde season. This is when systems in the main development region, in between Africa and the Caribbean, flare up. It usually occurs in early to mid August, but this season it is starting several weeks early. This is partly due to near historic warm sea surface temperatures in the main development region.
Also, Gonzalo is forming very far south compared with most other tropical systems.
Its prospects beyond the weekend are very uncertain right now. But there is at least some chance it will remain a hurricane in the Caribbean and if so, this storm will need to be watched closely to see if it makes the turn north towards the U.S. or moves west into Central America.
After Gonzalo, computer models are showing another system with a good potential for development now emerging off of Africa. While its fate is uncertain, what does seem certain is that an active couple of weeks — and likely hurricane season as a whole — is now upon us. This is in line with all of the seasonal forecasts from various organizations warning it’s likely to be one of the most active hurricane seasons on record in the Atlantic.