The most active part of the hurricane season is still weeks away, but experts’ predictions for a busy season appear to be holding true, with the National Hurricane Center now monitoring two systems.
Tropical Storm Gonzalo, which formed Wednesday, is expected to become the first hurricane of the season by Friday night. Meantime, a tropical depression has formed in the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to strengthen into a tropical storm, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
A hurricane watch has been issued for Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines as Gonzalo is expected to strengthen into a hurricane over the next 24 hours and peak at a Category 1, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before tropical storm force winds are anticipated to reach the location, according to the NHC.
The government of Trinidad and Tobago has issued a tropical storm watch for Tobago and Grenada.
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“Gonzalo faces an uncertain future,” the NHC says.
At 5 p.m. Thursday, Gonzalo had sustained winds of 60 mph and was about 810 miles east of the southern Windward Islands.
“Out of an abundance of caution,” the NHC says, “the official forecast continues to show Gonzalo becoming a hurricane in about 24 hours, but the uncertainty in this scenario cannot be stressed enough.”
“Small storms are prone to more significant fluctuations in intensity, both up and down,” CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward says.
Either way, there is an increasing risk of wind and rain impacts to portions of the southern Windward Islands this weekend.
Tropical storm watch issued for Texas coastline
Tropical Depression Eight formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday night and was about 385 miles off the coast of Port O’Connor, Texas, late Thursday afternoon, according to the NHC.
The depression is becoming better organized with winds of 35 mph and will likely to be a tropical storm by Friday.
A tropical storm warning has been issued for the Texas coast from Port Mansfield to San Luis Pass, according to the National Hurricane Center.
A tropical storm watch remains in place from San Luis Pass to High Island.
The system continues to move toward the central Texas coast and is likely to make landfall Saturday as a tropical storm.
If this storm does become a tropical storm, it will be named Tropical Storm Hanna, breaking the record for the earliest H-named storm set by Tropical Storm Harvey on August 3, 2005.
It would become just another record added to this historic hurricane season.
The most significant threat from this storm will likely be flooding rainfall, as 3 to 6 inches are expected, with isolated amounts up to 10 inches.
Beyond tropical storm-force winds, rainfall will be a massive concern, from Lousiana to southern Texas. .
Gonzalo sets early records
Gonzalo marks the earliest that a storm has received a name starting with the letter “G” since the United States began using a named-storm system in 1953. On average, the seventh named storm in a season is on September 16.
The previous record for the earliest seventh named storm formation in the Atlantic was Gert on July 24 during the busiest hurricane season on record, 2005.
“The tropical Atlantic looks extremely conducive for an active season,” Philip Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University told CNN.
“While 2020 may beat 2005 to the 7th named storm, 2005 had already had 3 hurricanes and 2 (of those were) major hurricanes (Dennis and Emily) by July 21. 2020 has yet to have a named storm reach hurricane strength,” tweeted Klotzbach.
CNN’s Virginia Langmaid contributed to this report.