Gulf Coast on alert as two tropical systems could threaten at the same time

The first system to watch is Tropical Storm Laura, which is about 250 miles east of the northern Leeward Islands.

Tropical storm watches have been issued for St. Maarten, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, Saba and St. Eustatius. Additional watches were posted for Culebra and Vieques in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands and St. Martin and St. Barthelemy.

The second system, Tropical Depression Fourteen (TD-14), is about 150 miles east of Isla Roatan, Honduras. A hurricane watch is in effect for Punta Herrero to Cancun, Mexico. A tropical storm warning has been issued in Honduras from the border with Nicaragua westward to Punta Castilla, according to the National Hurricane Center. A warning is posted in Nicaragua from Puerto Cabezas northward. A warning is also posted for the Bay Islands of Honduras, the NHC said.

“Regardless of development, this disturbance will likely produce heavy rains across a large portion of Central America and southeastern Mexico late this week and this weekend,” the NHC said.

TD-14 is expected to become better organized Friday, meaning an upgrade to Tropical Storm Marco is likely to occur in the next 24 hours.

An extra focus on the Gulf of Mexico

Both systems are headed to the Gulf of Mexico.

“The longer-term forecast for [Tropical Storm Laura] looks to be complicated by the presence of another tropical system [TD 14] in the Gulf of Mexico next week,” said CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller. “Another tropical system spinning in the Gulf will make the forecast track less certain, as tropical storms and hurricanes in close range of each other can alter the winds in the atmosphere and influence each others’ tracks.”

So have we ever had two tropical storm strength systems simultaneously in the Gulf of Mexico before?

It has been 60 years since it has happened, said tropical researcher Phil Klotzbach. That occurred on June 18, 1959.

“On that date, we had an unnamed tropical storm (e.g., added after the season) and Beulah,” Klotzbach said.

Right now both storms are forecast to intensify to Category 1 hurricane strength as they move through the Gulf of Mexico.

“We have never had two hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico simultaneously,” Klotzbach points out.

As of now, these systems are still several days away from impacting the US, so there is a lot that could change. However, since there are two systems at play here, essentially everything from Texas to Florida is an option.

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