For all the names mentioned, however, most of these systems were “fish storms,” staying at sea. And only two of them turned into hurricanes, Hanna and Isaias, and neither of them did. ‘exceeded Category 1 status. Scientists use a metric called accumulated cyclone energy to measure the overall activity of a season, taking into account the duration and intensity of storms. By this standard, 2020 has been quite active, but not extremely.
But now we come to the height of hurricane season in the Atlantic, which tends to accelerate at the end of August. This is when the tropical region between Africa and the Caribbean Sea usually reaches its most suitable for development with warm seas and strong winds. This allows a “train” of storms to develop as the atmospheric waves move off the west coast of Africa.
And that’s exactly what we’ve seen with the development of Tropical Depressions 13 and 14 over the past 24 hours. Neither system is guaranteed to become a hurricane – in fact, both have factors like dry air and wind shear to contend with – but based on their anticipated trajectories, we might see one or both in the Gulf of Mexico early next week.
It turns out that would be quite rare. According to Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane specialist at Colorado State University, there have only been two occasions in the past 150 years that there have been two systems in the Gulf of Mexico where both had at least a tropical storm force. This happened on September 5, 1933 (Treasure Coast and Cuba-Brownsville) and June 18, 1959 (Unnamed and Beulah).
At no time have there ever been two systems that were both hurricane resistant. It’s possible that these lows will reach hurricane status within the next five days, but as of Thursday morning, the National Hurricane Center predicts the two will only become strong tropical storms. In 2020, of course, all bets are off.
Either way, interests along the Gulf Coast from northern Florida to Florida should keep a close watch on these two lows. For now, at least, the biggest threat is probably the heavy rains next week. But the tropics love nothing more than surprising forecasters.