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‘Unlucky zone:’ Updates show corridor which has potential to be hit by two tropical storms

August 23, 2020 GMT

Two tropical storms are brewing in the Atlantic Ocean right now — Tropical Storm Laura and Tropical Storm Marco. Both storms are expected to become hurricanes, hitting the same area of the country in a historic weather event.

“This is going to be quite the mess,” said WRAL meteorologist Zach Maloch. “Both systems are going to be impacting the northern Gulf coast states.”

Tropical Storm Marco, which formed Friday night, was expected to gain strength over the Caribbean and make landfall on the Louisiana coast by Monday in the late afternoon or evening.

By Wednesday afternoon, Tropical Storm Laura was expected to impact that same spot.

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Tropical Storm Marco was forecast to be a Category One Hurricane by Saturday night.

This graphic shows “The Unlucky Corridor” that is expected to take the greatest brunt of both storms.

Tropical Storm Laura will bring heavy rain into Puerto Rico that could prompt flash flooding and mudslides. One model — which is an outlier — has the tropical storm strengthen to a Category 4 Hurricane.

Other models have Tropical Storm Laura strengthen to a Category 1 storm.

Even though there is still a lot of uncertainty with the storm, we expect it to strengthen on Tuesday over the Gulf of Mexico before making landfall.

Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico are warm, with temperatures in the mid-80s, which will likely cause each storm to strengthen as it heads towards landfall on the US coast.

As of the 11 p.m. Saturday advisory from the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Marco had winds of 65 mph and was 110 miles west northwest of the western tip of Cuba and about 470 miles south southeast of the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was moving north northwest at 13 mph.

Here is the most updated path for Marco as of 5 p.m. on Saturday.

At 11 p.m. Saturday, Tropical Storm Laura was about 25 miles east southeast of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. It was moving west at 16 mph with winds at 50 mph.

Here is the most updated path for Laura as of 5 p.m. on Saturday.

This year’s Atlantic hurricane season has been busy, with record-setting storms. Marco is the earliest named tropical storm in recorded history, according to WRAL meteorologist Mike Maze. If all the names on the list of 2020 storm names are used before hurricane season ends, meteorologists will use Greek letters to refer to the storms.

The two storms could create a unique situation in the Gulf of Mexico. When tropical systems get within 800 miles of each other, that is a phenomenon called the Fujiwara Effect.

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“In this case ... they would be about 400 miles apart and potentially as much as a day apart, but you can still see how close those centers are together,” meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said on Friday.

If the storms remain at about equal strength, they would rotate around each other, she explained.

“But if, for some reason, Laura strengthens and we get potentially Marcos being stronger, then Marcos could absorb Laura and it could make a stronger storm,” she said.

Tropical Storm Laura could eventually bring North Carolina rain sometime next week, but the timeline is not exactly clear yet.

“There’s certainly the possibility we could have one storm making landfall on Tuesday morning and another making landfall around Wednesday morning along the Gulf Coast in very close proximity,” said Gardner. “That’s something I can never remember happening.”

A third system near Africa will continue to move over the eastern Atlantic this week. There is a 20% chance of development within the next five days as it continues to move westward,

“I feel sure that it’s probably going to develop, and this time of year you never know how many more are following right behind it,” said Gardner.

Peak hurricane season runs from mid-August to late October, and hurricane season officially ends on Nov. 30. WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said very warm ocean temperatures are contributing to the active hurricane season.