PALM BEACH, Fla. — The National Hurricane Center is forecasting for two tropical depressions to reach hurricane strength, with both sharing the Gulf of Mexico at the same time.
If that forecast holds true, it would be the first time in recorded history that two hurricanes muscled through the Gulf’s warm waters simultaneously, according to Colorado State University researcher Phil Klotzbach.
It could also be another record breaker for 2020 with the potential for seven tropical cyclone landfalls in the continental U.S. before the end of August.
South Florida, its west coast and Panhandle remain in the path of a messy Tropical Depression 13, which is predicted to become a tropical storm Friday before shaving north of Puerto Rico on a path toward Florida.
While Boca Raton through Boynton Beach remained in the cone of uncertainty early Friday, areas north of Boynton Beach were out of the cone. Communities west were also still in the cone.
The system was having trouble settling on a future overnight, and NHC meteorologists warned the forecast models that predict storm intensity vary widely.
The U.S. model and the Euro degenerate the system into an open wave, while the HWRF take it to a major hurricane.
The official forecast calls for TD 13 to be a strong tropical storm near South Florida as it cuts through the Keys and into the Gulf of Mexico, where it is forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane with 75-mph winds.
South Florida could begin feeling tropical-storm-force winds early Monday.
The current track, which shifted slightly south and west overnight, has TD 13 making landfall Wednesday in an area from the Panhandle to eastern Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane.
Tropical Depression 14, which was off the coast of Honduras early Friday and expected to become a tropical storm before hitting the Yucatan Peninsula, is forecast to weaken slightly in the southern Gulf of Mexico but reach hurricane strength before making a landfall Tuesday in Texas or far eastern Louisiana.
That means Louisiana could be in the path of two potential hurricanes that could make landfall within hours of each other.
The next names on the 2020 hurricane list are Laura, Marco and Nana.
How do storms get their names?:Naming tropical cyclones dates back to the 1800s
It was unclear early Friday which system would win the name race and earn Laura, but if Laura forms this week it would be the earliest “L” storm on record, beating current record holder Hurricane Luis, which formed on Aug. 29, 1995.
The record holder for earliest “M” named storm is 2005′s Hurricane Maria, which formed on Sept. 2.
This hurricane season has lived up to forecasts that called for above normal activity. The Climate Prediction Center’s most recent estimate was for up to 25 named storms, which would require using the Greek alphabet. There are 21 names on the six-year rotating list of storm names. The names end with the letter W and exclude Q, U, X, Y and Z.
Klotzbach said there is no record of two hurricanes existing in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time, but there is precedent for two tropical cyclones — hurricane, storm or depression — to occupy the space together.
The 1933 storms dubbed Treasure Coast and Cuba-Brownsville, and the 1959 storms Beulah and an unnamed system shared the Gulf of Mexico.