Two tropical storms expected to blow through the United States Gulf Coast less than one full day apart could make history if they strengthen to become hurricanes.
Tropical storms Laura and Marco have been picking up speed across the Caribbean over the weekend and now have probable sustained speeds of 63 km/h, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. They’re both expected to strengthen to the level of hurricanes by Sunday. If they do, it will be the first time two hurricanes have ever come so close to converging in recorded history.
Laura has been slowly making its way through Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands while Marco has been quickly advancing through Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba.
“I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Global News’ meteorologist Peter Quinlan. “We’ve never had really any kind of scenarios like this, where there are two storms with such potential strength.”
The two storms have been able to pick up so quickly because of the amount of warm water they’re taking in from eastern and southernly areas, Quinlan said.
The two storms are not expected to interact with each other until they both reach the Gulf Coast. Quinlan said sometimes one hurricane will “steal” energy from another.
“We don’t really know how much energy each will store from one another. So that’s why there is a little bit of uncertainty.”
What can we expect?
Quinlan said it was likely the storms would be labelled Category One Type Hurricanes — capable of wind speeds up 119 km/h.
“One of the storms likely to become a little bit stronger than the other. The one that’s a little weaker will probably start to almost orbit around the other storm, kind of like a planet within the solar system, being pulled in by its strength,” he said.
In the United States, evacuations are done by county emergency management — usually for water, not wind.
Residents along the northern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas, can expect storm surges, heavy wind, mudslides, flash and urban flooding on Sunday from Tropical Storm Laura, the NHC said.
Tropical storm Marco is projected to become a hurricane by Saturday evening, weakening as it moves over the Yucatan and regaining strength by the time it gets into the Gulf of Mexico, the NHC advisory said.
Storm surges, winds and heavy rainfall from the upper Texas coast to Louisiana are expected early next week, they added.
“The Gulf of Mexico is going to get a one-two punch,” said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and spokesperson with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “We just don’t know where the exact impacts are going to be. It’s too early.”
Can two hurricanes hit at the same time?
Feltgen said those looking to see two hurricanes merge would almost certainly be disappointed.
“That’s a physical impossibility. You can’t have two storms in the same place at the same time. It’d be like having two snowstorms sitting on top of Toronto. It doesn’t happen,” he said.
Tropical storm Marco is expected to arrive at the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, while tropical storm Laura is set to arrive Monday, said Feltgen.
According to the NOAA, the closest weather event to this was on Sept. 4, 1933, when a major hurricane was over south Florida and another major hurricane was over the western Gulf of Mexico.
The last time two tropical cyclones simultaneously in the Gulf of Mexico was in September of 2002, while the last time two tropical storms were in the Gulf together was in 1959, the NOAA said in a statement to Global News.
— With files from The Associated Press