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File photo: Tropical storm
The historically active 2020 Atlantic hurricane season continues to ramp up, with the National Hurricane Center identifying two tropical depressions, both of which could strengthen as they head toward the Gulf of Mexico and the U.S. coastline.


The National Hurricane Center projects Tropical Depression Thirteen, over the central Atlantic, and Tropical Depression Fourteen, in the western Caribbean, will strengthen from their 35 mph sustained winds as they move toward the U.S.

There's still a great deal of uncertainty about how strong the storms could become, but it seems very likely they will become the 12th and 13th named storms — Laura and Marco — over the next day or so.

Tropical Depression Thirteen is forecast to become a Category 1 hurricane as it moves past the Bahamas and approaches south Florida on Monday, before potentially entering the eastern Gulf of Mexico.

Over the next 36 hours, Tropical Depression Fourteen will be entering an area where "environmental conditions appear ideal for strengthening," according to the National Hurricane Center, before it's expected to make landfall along Mexico's Yucatan peninsula and then reemerge in the Gulf of Mexico, heading northward toward the U.S. coastline.

As of now, the National Hurricane Center keeps the system as a strong tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico, but acknowledged "there is greater-than-normal uncertainty" in its future intensity.


Both storms are forecast to be in the northern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday, which is an extremely rare phenomenon. "I can't say I have ever seen two storms trying to share the Gulf at the same time," Zack Fradella, a New Orleans-based meteorologist, said Thursday.

Comment: Similarly, it's unusual to see 10 waterspouts emerge from the same storm, as seen in Louisiana yesterday:


"It is too soon to know exactly how strong it will get or the location and magnitude of impacts it will produce along the central or northwestern Gulf Coast," the National Hurricane Center said for Tropical Depression Fourteen, while saying of Tropical Depression Thirteen that, "The details and long-range track and intensity forecasts are more uncertain than usual."


A Hurricane Hunter aircraft is scheduled to investigate Tropical Depression Fourteen in the Caribbean Thursday afternoon, which will collect more data on the system that could improve forecasting confidence.


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) warned Thursday that Tropical Depression Thirteen could impact Florida, saying, "Floridians should take time now to prepare 7 days of supplies."


In terms of named storms, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has gotten off to the fastest start in history, according to record-keeping dating back to 1851. But storms so far haven't been very strong — only Hanna and Isaias have become hurricanes, and both were Category 1 status. Forecasters are predicting much stronger storms over the remainder of the season, with several storms reaching Category 3 or higher, a potentially devastating strength if they make landfall with that intensity.