A tropical depression that formed in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday night could drench Texas as a tropical storm this weekend, as Tropical Storm Gonzalo is forecast to become the first hurricane of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season.
By this weekend, Texas could feel the impact of the season’s eighth tropical depression, which formed late Wednesday night in the central Gulf of Mexico and is forecast to become Tropical Storm Hanna as early as Thursday.
As of Thursday morning, the storm was located about 405 miles east-southeast of Port O’Conner, Texas, and moving west-northwest at 9 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Maximum sustained winds were 30 mph, with higher gusts.
“I expect landfall some time Saturday between Houston and Brownsville,” said Ray Hawthorne, a meteorologist with the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network. “There are likely to be tropical storm force winds near the Texas Gulf coast, but the greater concern is the flash flood potential from Louisiana into Texas this weekend into early next week.”
Portions of Texas’ Gulf Coast are under a tropical storm watch, according to the hurricane center, and the storm is forecast to produce 3-5 inches of rain – and isolated totals of 8 inches – along the Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the lower Texas coast.
While the Gulf Coast braces for the potential tropical storm, Gonzalo was located about 910 miles east of the Windward Islands on Thursday morning and moving west at 12 mph, according to the hurricane center. It had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph with higher gusts.
A hurricane watch has been issued for Barbados ahead of its anticipated arrival this weekend.
While Gonzalo – the earliest named seventh tropical storm on record in the North Atlantic Basin – is expected to intensify, Hawthorne said the storm should not impact the U.S.
“Gonzalo has a good chance of briefly attaining hurricane status Thursday. I expect it to weaken as it approaches the Windward Islands and Caribbean this weekend,” Hawthorne said. “It's not expected to be a threat to the U.S. coastline.”
Computer models disagree on the future intensity of Gonzalo. The U.S. models forecast Gonzalo to remain strong and move in the general direction of Hispaniola next week, while the Canadian and typically high-performing European global models both show Gonzalo weakening rapidly as it enters the Caribbean.
In either case, squally conditions are likely to move over portions of the Lesser Antilles over the weekend. No effects are forecast over the next week along the mainland U.S. coastline.
Information from the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network was used in this report.