JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The year 2020 has been one for the history books in many ways and the tropics are about to add another record to an already remarkable season.
Residents along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida are preparing for not one but two tropical systems to make landfall early next week.
As of 11 p.m. Friday Laura remains about as weak a tropical storm can be with just a ribbon of tropical storm force winds well to the north of the center.
The Weather Authority continues to track two tropical systems. The first being Tropical Storm Marco which is currently located in the northwestern Caribbean Sea, moving west-northwest at 12 mph. The storm moved from Tropical Depression Fourteen to Tropical Storm Marco on Friday night.
Marco formed late Friday evening, is the earliest on record, “M” storm and could become a Category 1 hurricane as it tracks over the Gulf of Mexico heading towards the Texas coastline.
The second storm, which became Tropical Storm Laura on Friday morning, is the earliest ‘L’ storm ever, breaking the previous Atlantic hurricane season record set on Aug. 29, 1995.
TRACKING THE TROPICS: Interactive tropical map, other resources
What’s interesting is if you look at the forecast tracks of the two separate storms, they are forecast to make landfall within the same 24 hour time period. This is as crazy as it sounds, and also rare. This may not happen but is a possibility.
Back in 2017, we had three storms in the Atlantic Basin about to make landfall. On Sept. 8, 2017 Hurricane Irma made landfall along the north coast of Cuba just before midnight and, within the same hour, Hurricane Katia made landfall along the Mexico Gulf Coast. Right behind Irma, we also had Hurricane Jose.
It’s even more rare to have two Atlantic Basin landfalls affecting the U.S. mainland around the same time. This has only happened two other times: Sept. 5, 1933, and June 18, 1959, according to Phil Klotzbach at Colorado State University -- one of the most respected authorities on hurricane activity.
The shortest time between two hurricanes was Sept. 5, 1933, when two separate hurricanes made landfall in the United States, not including overseas territories. There were 23 hours between the Treasure Coast Hurricane making landfall and the Cuba/Brownsville Hurricane Douglas making landfall.
The shortest time between two separate #hurricane landfalls to hit the United States (not including overseas territories) is 23 hours between the Treasure Coast Hurricane and the Cuba/Brownsville Hurricane on September 4-5, 1933. #Hanna #Douglas pic.twitter.com/8dNqxD6E5j— Philip Klotzbach (@philklotzbach) July 27, 2020
It’s important to remember that there is still time for wiggle room in the forecast for Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Storm Marco.
With these storms forecast to be very close to one another, it raises some questions.
Could the storms collide into one big powerful storm? Not likely, but not impossible either.
There is something we call the Fujiwhara Effect, which is when two hurricanes spinning in the same direction pass close enough to each other, they begin an intense dance around their common center. If one hurricane is a lot stronger than the other, the smaller one will orbit it and eventually come crashing into its vortex to be absorbed. Two storms closer in strength can gravitate towards each other until they reach a common point and merge, or merely spin each other around for a while before shooting off on their own paths.
With that in mind, we may witness something extremely rare over the next week as these storms strengthen and move in along the Northern Gulf Coast.