Three separate storm systems are bearing down on the United States and Caribbean this weekend.
The tropical threats include Hurricane Douglas in the Pacific Ocean, which is barreling toward Hawaii; Tropical Storm Hanna in the Gulf of Mexico, which will make landfall on the Texas coast on Saturday; and Tropical Storm Gonzalo in the Atlantic, which will impact the Windward Islands.
Douglas was a powerful Category 4 hurricane Friday morning with maximum sustained winds of 130 mph while moving west-northwest at 18 mph. The storm’s center was located about 1,000 miles east-southeast of Hilo on the Island of Hawaiʻi.
Over the next few days, Douglas is forecast to weaken, but it will approach the Hawaiian Islands on Saturday as either a Category 1 hurricane or a strong tropical storm. The ultimate track of the storm will determine the severity of wind, rain and surf impacts on the island chain.
Direct hurricane strikes are rare for Hawaii. While the island chain has a lot of close calls and gets brushed by several tropical cyclones a year, only two hurricanes have made direct landfall on the state. The most recent was Hurricane Iniki in 1992, which halted the production of the first Jurassic Park movie.
Tropical Storm Hanna
As of an 8 a.m. Friday advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Hanna had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph, was located 285 miles east-southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, and was moving west-northwest at 9 mph. A tropical storm warning was in effect from the mouth of the Rio Grande to San Luis Pass, Texas and a tropical storm watch from San Luis Pass to High Island.
Of particular concern, Hanna is forecast to strengthen right up until it makes landfall on the southern Texas coast sometime tomorrow. While the forecast has it making landfall as a strong tropical storm, there is an outside chance it reaches hurricane status before landfall.
Heavy rainfall — 4-8 inches on average, but up to 12 inches in some areas — could fall through Sunday night in southern Texas, causing flash flooding. Meanwhile, 3-5 inches of rain is expected along the upper Texas and Louisiana coastlines. Tropical storm force gusts could reach the coast by Friday night or early Saturday morning.
Hanna is the earliest “H” storm on record, following other record-setters from the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season like Cristobal, Edouard, Fay and Gonzalo. The previous record was Harvey on August 3, 2005.
Tropical Storm Gonzalo
As of Friday morning, Tropical Storm Gonzalo had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph, was located 580 miles east of the southern Windward Islands, and was moving west at 15 mph. A hurricane watch was in effect for Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while a tropical storm warning is in effect for St. Lucia. A tropical storm watch was in effect for Tobago and Grenada.
While Gonzalo has yet to reach hurricane strength, there is still a chance it could do so before reaching the southern Windward Islands this weekend. Either way, 2-5 inches of rain — and up to 7 inches in some areas — is possible for Barbados and the Windward Islands Friday night through Sunday night.
Beyond the weekend, the current forecast has Gonzalo weakening as it enters the Caribbean Sea and dissipating by the middle of next week.
Simultaneous storm systems in the Atlantic during July is not all that common. It’s only happened in 11 other years, according to Phil Klotzbach, a meteorologist at Colorado State University specializing in Atlantic basin season hurricane forecasts.
And as if that isn’t enough, the National Hurricane Center has circled another area to watch just off the western African coast. A vigorous tropical wave is expected to move westward across the tropical Atlantic over the next several days with gradual development possible. This will be one to watch next week.