Newly formed tropical storms Laura and Marco pose a double threat for the Gulf Coast this weekend.
The storms could potentially interact with each other, making it difficult to predict the potential impact. They could also merge — the least likely scenario, according to computer forecast models.
Models varied so much late Friday that some saw Laura becoming a major hurricane as it nears the U.S., while others had it dissipating.
This satellite image released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows Tropical Storm Laura in the North Atlantic Ocean, Friday, Aug. 21, 2020. Laura formed Friday in the eastern Caribbean and forecasters said it poses a potential hurricane threat to Florida and the U.S. Gulf Coast. A second storm also may hit the U.S. after running into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. (NOAA via AP)
Laura, which the National Hurricane Center forecasts will become a hurricane, is currently headed toward the central Gulf Coast around Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the western Florida Panhandle. Marco, currently on track to hit Texas, is expected to remain 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 National Weather Service tropical program coordinator. “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.
The tropical storms are forecast to meet in the Gulf on Tuesday.
Early Saturday, Laura was centered about 150 miles southeast of Cozumel, Mexico, with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. Marco was east of the Yucatan Peninsula.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.