Douglas, Gonzalo and Depression 8: Triple tropical trouble


The tropics are heating up as three separate systems are threatening havoc in the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

Hurricane Douglas in the Pacific Ocean threatens the Hawaiian Islands. Meanwhile, Tropical Depression Eight is spinning about 430 miles from Corpus Christi, Texas. And in the Atlantic, Tropical Storm Gonzalo is expected to become a hurricane Friday as it moves west toward the Windward Islands of the Caribbean.

While 2020 has been crushing records for earliest named storms in the Atlantic, including Cristobal, Edouard, Fay and Gonzalo, hurricane experts noted that the storms so far have been weak and short-lived.

Here’s a look at each storm:

Hurricane Douglas heads for Hawaii

Far out in the Pacific Ocean, Hurricane Douglas intensified as it churned west toward the Hawaiian Islands on a track to potentially bring strong winds, heavy rainfall and flash flooding to the island chain over the weekend, weather forecasters said.

As of late afternoon Thursday, Douglas was a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph. It was located about 1,235 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii.

Little change in strength is likely Thursday, the National Hurricane Center said, which added that “gradual weakening is forecast to begin by Friday.”

The National Weather Service said Douglas is likely to be either at hurricane or near-hurricane strength when it arrives in Hawaii.

The forecast track of Hurricane Douglas shows the system moving over the Hawaiian Islands by the weekend.
The forecast track of Hurricane Douglas shows the system moving over the Hawaiian Islands by the weekend.

Tropical Storm Hanna may form in Gulf of Mexico

On the U.S. mainland, the Texas coast was bracing for the arrival of Tropical Depression Eight, currently spinning in the Gulf of Mexico some 385 miles from Port O’Connor, Texas. 

Tropical storm warnings and watches were issued for much of the Texas coast. 

The center of the depression is expected to move across the northwestern Gulf of Mexico on Thursday and Friday and make landfall along the Texas coast on Saturday, the hurricane center said. Slow strengthening is expected and the depression should become a tropical storm later Thursday.

If its wind speed reaches 39 mph, it would be named Tropical Storm Hanna. If the storm reaches that status, it could earn the distinction of being the earliest recorded “H” named storm on record in the Atlantic basin, AccuWeather said. 

Regardless of whether the system becomes Hanna, it is still expected to produce 3 to 5 inches of rain with isolated maximum totals of 10 inches through Monday along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the lower Texas coast, and inland through south-central Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.

Along the coast, swells from the depression were forecast to “cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the hurricane center said.

Tropical Storm Gonzalo likely to become hurricane

In the Atlantic Ocean, Tropical Storm Gonzalo continued to churn west toward the Windward Islands of the Caribbean, according to the hurricane center.

As of late Thursday, Gonzalo was centered about 810 miles east of the southern Windward Islands with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. It was heading west at 13 mph.

Gonzalo is expected to become a hurricane on Friday, and a Hurricane Watch is in effect for Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Up to 7 inches of rain was possible on some of the islands, the hurricane center said, which could lead to “life-threatening flash floods.”