PALM BEACH, Fla. – A pair of tropical depressions were forecast to approach U.S. shores as more potent systems by early next week, the National Hurricane Center said Thursday.
“We could actually have Laura AND Marco sharing the Gulf of Mexico on Monday, and both making U.S. landfalls on Monday,” University of Miami meteorologist Brian McNoldy said.
One system, now dubbed Tropical Depression 13, was forecast to menace Florida as a hurricane by Monday. The current path for the system includes South Florida; the center of the cone of uncertainty cuts through the Keys on Monday into Tuesday before making its way into the warm Gulf of Mexico.
The other system, Tropical Depression 14, now in the Caribbean, was forecast to approach the Texas Gulf Coast on Monday or Tuesday as a strong tropical storm, though the track and force that far out remained highly uncertain.
Tropical Depression 13 formed overnight with the National Hurricane Center forecasting a ramp-up to a hurricane with 75 mph winds by early next week.
As of 11 a.m. Thursday, the depression was about 750 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. It was moving west-northwest at 21 mph.
Tropical Depression 13 will become named a tropical storm when its winds reach 39 mph. The next names on the 2020 hurricane list are Laura, Marco and Nana.
A tropical storm watch is in effect for Saba and St. Eustatius, Antigua, Barbuda, Nevis and Anguilla for TD 13.
The system will be steered by a Bermuda High as it slides along underneath the massive clockwise swirl of winds in the Atlantic.
While the U.S. forecast model, or GFS, and the reliable Euro model show the system dissolving into an open wave at the end of the 5-day forecast period, the HWRF/HMON forecast the cyclone to intensify into a major hurricane.
NHC senior hurricane specialist Jack Beven noted that the intensity forecast is “more uncertain than usual.”
Its ultimate strength is also dependent on what islands it thrashes along the way. With towering ranges in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola in its potential path, as well as Cuba, it could be disrupted enough to dissipate into a wave as forecast by the GFS and Euro. Get the Coronavirus Watch newsletter in your inbox.
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As for Tropical Depression 14, the system was forecast to graze the Atlantic coast of Honduras, then curve across Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula over the weekend, the Hurricane Center said.
On Thursday morning, it was centered about 235 miles east of Cabo Gracias a Dios on the Honduras-Nicaragua border, with maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. It was headed west at 21 mph.
A tropical storm watch was in effect for the coast of Honduras from the Honduras/Nicaragua border westward to Punta Castilla and for the Bay Islands of Honduras.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Genevieve lost punch as it closed in on the southern end of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, though it is still lashed the tourist region with heavy rains and strong winds in what was likely to be a close pass keeping the storm just offshore.
Genevieve had a been a powerful Category 4 hurricane Tuesday but had weakened to Category 1 strength by Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said.
Tropical Depression 13 formed the same day Colorado State University issued its two-week forecast through the end of August calling for above normal activity.
If Laura forms in the next few days, it would likely break another record for the 2020 hurricane season.
The current record holder is major Hurricane Luis, which formed on Aug. 29, 1995. If Laura beats out Luis, it would be the ninth storm this season to break a record for earliest formation.