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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 415 miles from Port O’Connor, 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 midday Thursday, Douglas was a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 120 mph. It was located about 1,335 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii.
Some additional strengthening is possible 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.
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 380 miles from Port O’Connor, Texas.
A tropical storm watch was 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 could become a tropical storm in a day or so.
If its wind speed reaches 39 mph, it would be named Tropical Storm Hanna. If the storm reaches tropical-storm 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 8 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.
USA TODAY hurricane tracker: Track all of the current tropical storms and hurricanes
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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 midday Thursday, Gonzalo was centered about 850 miles east of the southern Windward Islands with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph. It was heading west at 14 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.”
Contributing: The Associated Press; Kimberly Miller, The Palm Beach Post
2019’s Atlantic hurricane season was a busy one and AccuWeather’s forecasters are anticipating another active season for 2020.
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