Hurricane Douglas becomes 1st of season in eastern Pacific as Gonzalo brews in Atlantic

The fourth named storm and first official hurricane of the eastern Pacific season formed on Wednesday, and its name is Douglas. Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Gonzalo continues to strengthen in the Atlantic Ocean and may become a hurricane by Thursday.

The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center forecasted an above-average Atlantic Hurricane Season in its 2020 May outlook for the season.

“That is exactly what has been taking place,” Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist with NOAA and the National Hurricane Center said.

NOAA’s 2020 eastern Pacific Hurricane Season Outlook indicates a near- or below-normal season most likely (75% combined chance).

Douglas may impact Hawaiian Islands

Douglas strengthened into a hurricane Wednesday morning, and was centered about 1750 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii in the eastern north pacific, according to the NOAA’s National Hurricane Center.

As of Wednesday morning, Douglas was a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph. The storm was moving to the west at 15 mph.

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The storm is forecast to turn west-northwest by Wednesday evening, and move into the Central Pacific on Friday.

This current model track suggests the storm would approach Hawaii this weekend and potentially impact the Hawaiian Islands by the weekend or early next week.

“There is an increasing chance that strong winds and heavy rainfall could affect portions of the state beginning on Sunday,” Felton said.

The system will likely weaken into a tropical depression by the time it reaches Hawaii. Currently, there are no coastal watches or warnings in effect.

Tropical Storm Gonzalo strengthens in Atlantic

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Gonzalo is strengthening in the Atlantic and may become a hurricane by Thursday.

This system formed in the Atlantic Ocean between Africa and the Lesser Antilles and could bring direct impact, including heavy rainfall and winds, to parts of the southern Windward Islands this weekend.

Gonzalo was located over 1,000 miles east of the southern Windward Islands, with sustained winds of 50 mph.

As of Wednesday, the system was heading west at 14 mph.

But Gonzalo poses forecast challenges regarding its track and intensity.

“The intensity forecast remains very problematic and of low confidence. On one side, the cyclone has been strengthening quickly and the good organization suggests additional, and possibly rapid, strengthening should occur,” Felton said.

Dry air entertainment currently north and west of Gonzalo could weaken the storm’s development. Certain models, including the GFS, UKMET, ECMWF, and Canadian models forecast the system to be weak or dissipate.

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On the flip side, warmer-than-average ocean temperatures may continue to help fuel this storm. Looking at models, “the SHIPS-based guidance and the HWRF make the system a hurricane and keep that intensity,” Felton said.

Gonzalo became the earliest seventh named tropical storm on record to form in the Atlantic basin.

Felton said it is too soon to determine the magnitude and exact timing of its impacts, and whether Gonzalo will have any impact on the U.S. mainland, but Gonzalo should continue to be monitored.

A tropical wave brings showers to South

Recent satellite wind data indicate that a broad low-pressure area has formed in association with a tropical wave over the central Gulf of Mexico.

The tropical wave is producing large, but poorly organized showers in the eastern Gulf of Mexico and central and southern Florida.

Conditions appear conducive, and development is possible as it moves west-northwestward at about 10 mph. A tropical depression could form in the next few days. There is currently a medium, 40% chance of cyclone formation in the next 48 hours.

Watches or warnings could be required for portions of the coasts of Texas and Louisiana later Wednesday or Thursday. “An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate the system this afternoon,” Felton said.

The Climate Prediction Center will update its hurricane outlook on Aug. 6, just ahead of the peak of hurricane season, which typically occurs between mid-August through late October.