Three separate storm systems are bearing down on the United States and the Caribbean.
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 have an impact on the Windward Islands.
Douglas weakened from a Category 4 to a Category 3 hurricane Friday afternoon, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph, according to the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.
That still makes it a major hurricane and it’s projected to pass “dangerously close to, or over” the Hawaiian Islands on Sunday, federal forecasters said.
It was expected to bring with it “life-threatening surf” starting Saturday, the center said.
The storm was about 930 miles east-southeast of Honolulu, forecasters said. Douglas was moving west-northwest at 20 mph.
While the islands were under a hurricane watch, Douglas was expected to weaken to “near hurricane strength” by the time it reaches the area of the archipelago, the hurricane center said.
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
The National Hurricane Center said Friday night that Tropical Storm Hanna had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and was 165 miles east-southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas and moving west at 8 mph.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Port Mansfield.
A tropical storm warning covered 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 Saturday. While the forecast has it making landfall as a strong tropical storm, there is an outside chance it reaches hurricane status before it does.
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 are expected along the upper Texas and the 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 such as Cristobal, Edouard, Fay and Gonzalo. The previous record was Harvey on Aug. 3, 2005.
Tropical Storm Gonzalo
As of Friday night, Tropical Storm Gonzalo had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and was 285 miles east of Trinidad and moving west at 17 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for St. Vincent, the Grenadines, 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 — are possible for Barbados and the Windward Islands from 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 are 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.