Two newly formed tropical storms could become almost simultaneous threats to the US Gulf Coast early next week. They could even get sucked into an odd dance around each other. Or they could fall apart as they soak the Caribbean and Mexico this weekend.
Tropical storms Laura and Marco have such bad and good environments ahead of them that their futures were not clear late Friday. Computer forecast models varied so much that some saw Laura becoming a major hurricane nearing the US, while others saw it dissipating.
If both storms survive the weekend, the National Hurricane Center forecast that Laura would as head a hurricane toward the central Gulf Coast around Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle, while Marco aimed at Texas, though most likely remaining a tropical storm.
“A lot of people are going to be impacted by rainfall and storm surge in the Gulf of Mexico,” said Joel Cline, the tropical program coordinator for the National Weather Service. “Since you simply don’t know you really need to make precautions.”
Two hurricanes have never appeared in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time, according to records going back to at least 1900, said Colorado State University hurricane researcher Phil Klotzbach. The last time two tropical storms were in the Gulf together was in 1959, he said.
Because the hurricane center slowed Laura’s entrance into the Gulf and moved its track westward, the two storms are now forecast to be together in the Gulf on Tuesday, just before Marco smacks Texas with Laura making landfall a bit less than a day later.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect early Saturday for Puerto Rico, the US and British Virgin Islands and parts of the Dominican Republic. Laura was forecast to hit Puerto Rico on Saturday morning, go over or near the Dominican Republic and Haiti late Saturday and Cuba on Sunday.