Two tropical systems take aim at the Gulf of Mexico

Local News

Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Depression 14 continue to have the eye of every meteorologist along the Gulf of Mexico. The storms have the potential to be hurricanes in the Gulf at the same for first time in recent memory.

Of the two storms, Tropical Depression 14 is the bigger threat to Texas. The latest track from the National Hurricane Center has Tropical Depression 14 becoming Tropical Storm Marco sometime between now and 1 AM Saturday. Marco would then strengthen to category 1 hurricane strength in the central Gulf. Right now, the official track has the storm weaken back to tropical storm strengthen before landfall somewhere between Lake Charles, LA and Kingsville, TX. The NHC believes there will be some wind shear to weaken the storm as it nears the coastline.

Tropical Storm Laura will have some effect on future Tropical Storm Marco down the road, but the question still remains how much. The current track of Laura, has her skimming the northern edge of Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and Cuba before moving through the Florida Straight or Florida Keys. The official track then takes Laura up to category 1 hurricane strength in the Gulf as it moves toward somewhere between Lake Charles, LA and Destin, FL.

There are still a number of big questions marks with both storms. The first being land interaction; what kind of shape will Laura and Marco when they reach the Gulf. Both will have to pass over land to get there, via the Caribbean Islands or Yucatan Peninsula. The another question mark is the atmospheric environment. The water in the Gulf is like a bath tub, but there is some wind shear in the northern Gulf. How both of those effect the strength of each storm will help decide where they end up. And lastly big meteorology term called fujiwhara effect.

The fujiwhara effect is as described by the National Weather Service is: “When two hurricanes spinning in the same direction pass close enough to each other, they begin an intense dance around their common center. If one hurricane is a lot stronger than the other, the smaller one will orbit it and eventually come crashing into its vortex to be absorbed. Two storms closer in strength can gravitate towards each other until they reach a common point and merge, or merely spin each other around for a while before shooting off on their own paths. In rare occasions, the effect is additive when the hurricanes come together, resulting in one larger storm instead of two smaller ones.”

It is possible that this happens between Marco and Laura, but that this time we do not know to what extend. Only time will tell. The big takeaway is we have to wait until Laura and Marco emerge in the Gulf of Mexico, to truly have a better idea of their final destination. Right now, the Rio Grande Valley looks be spared from both storms, but residents should continue to monitor over the coming days.

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