Tropical Depression 14 not yet a tropical storm, could threaten Central Texas

Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 6:24 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - The already record-breaking 2020 hurricane season is getting more active and continues to set records. Two-thirds of all Atlantic Basin hurricane activity occurs between August 20th and October 10th and by next week, the National Hurricane Center is forecasting two hurricanes to simultaneously be in the Gulf of Mexico, something which has never happened before.

Tropical Depression 14 is the one Texans need to watch. TD 14 is not yet Tropical Storm Marco but will be the record-holder for earliest ‘M’ (13th) storm when it does eventually strengthen, which is forecast to happen later tonight or tomorrow. The current record holders, Hurricane Maria (2005) and Tropical Storm Lee (2011) both were named on September 2nd. Tropical Storm Lee was the 13th storm of the 2011 after a post-season analysis by the National Hurricane Center determined an unnamed tropical storm formed on September 2nd, 2011 making Lee the 13th tropical storm of the season and not the 12th.

Tropical Depression Marco avoided making landfall in Honduras by only a few dozen miles but is quickly turning northwestward and could quickly strengthen before making landfall over the Yucatan Peninsula this weekend. The National Hurricane Center’s forecast states TD 14 will reemerge back into the Gulf of Mexico late Sunday and strengthen into a hurricane before approaching Texas and Louisiana next week.

Future-Marco will likely make landfall in either Texas or Louisiana Tuesday or Wednesday as a hurricane. The exact location of where the storm moves ashore moves ashore is uncertain at this time, but it’s looking likely to move ashore between Port O’Connor and Lafayette, LA. Most reliable forecast models are taking TD 14 ashore in East Texas and Louisiana which would keep Central Texas dry and hot. If TD 14 were to make landfall near Houston or farther westward, we would see changes to our current forecast with higher rain chances and breezy winds Tuesday and Wednesday. A reasonable ‘worst-case scenario’ for Central Texas would bring anywhere from .5″ to 2″+ of rainfall along with 20-40 MPH wind gusts mainly near and especially east of I-35. Again, the landfall location and strength will determine the type of weather we see. Trying to determine the strength of a tropical storm or hurricane is difficult and if TD 14 were to be stronger than the current forecast calls for, Central Texas’ worst-case scenario would include higher rainfall totals and maybe higher wind gusts too.

This is the track forecast for Tropical Depression 14 as of the 4 PM CT advisory issued from...
This is the track forecast for Tropical Depression 14 as of the 4 PM CT advisory issued from the National Hurricane Center on August 21st.(KWTX, NOAA)

Hurricane hunters determined Tropical Depression 13 had strengthened into Tropical Storm Laura just after 8 AM local time Friday a few hundred miles east of Puerto Rico. Laura is the earliest ‘L’ (12th) storm on record beating out the previous record formerly held by Luis on August 29th, 1995. Tropical Storm Laura will likely not impact Texas in any way but it is expected to move near or over Puerto Rico and Hispaniola this weekend before approaching Florida early next week. The National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast, issued at 10 AM CDT on August 21st, calls for Laura to pass near or over Florida before emerging in the Gulf of Mexico and potentially making landfall along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to Florida. Laura’s future depends on if it interacts with land this weekend and if it moves across Florida or stays over water next week. Laura will likely not impact Texas but could interact with Tropical Depression 14 early next week making for a difficult forecast for both storms. If the two storms were to come close to one another, something called the Fujiwhara effect could occur. Whenever two areas of low pressure come close to one another, they would dance around one another in a clockwise fashion, complicated the track and intensity forecast for both systems. The storms would not combine together to create a ‘super’ hurricane, but if one system were weak enough (in this case, Tropical Depression 14), the moisture could be absorbed into the other and disrupt the overall structure of the stronger storm.

This is the forecast from the National Hurricane Center for Tropical Storm Laura issued at 4 PM...
This is the forecast from the National Hurricane Center for Tropical Storm Laura issued at 4 PM on August 21st, 2020.(KWTX, NOAA)

Elsewhere across the Atlantic Basin, there’s only one tropical wave worth watching. A tropical wave just beginning to emerge off the coast of Africa has a 30% chance of developing into a tropical depression or tropical storm within the next 5 days. If it were to take on a name, it would become Nana. The earliest ‘N’ (14th) storm on record is Hurricane Nate which formed on September 5th, 2005. Two more tropical waves could potentially bear watching around the beginning of September, but there’s nothing jumping out to me that’s worth watching past these three systems.

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