Tropical Storm Laura formed on Friday, the latest named storm of a busy Atlantic hurricane season, while another, known currently as Tropical Depression 14, churned its way toward the Gulf of Mexico.
Laura, which was 250 miles east of San Juan, P.R., on Friday night, is expected to make its way north by going near or over Puerto Rico and parts of the Leeward Islands. It is on track to approach the northern coast of Hispaniola, according to an advisory from the National Hurricane Center.
It is possible that both storms will become active hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico as early as Monday, said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist with the National Hurricane Center.
Most of the Caribbean is under tropical storm advisories, with three to six inches of rain expected over the weekend. A tropical storm warning has been issued for Puerto Rico, which is expected to begin feeling Laura’s effects by Saturday morning.
In a news conference on Friday, Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced of Puerto Rico said she had signed an emergency declaration and told people “to remain calm and be prepared.”
Tropical Depression 14, which would be named Marco, could be near hurricane strength once it reaches the Yucatán Peninsula and enters the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend, the hurricane center said. A hurricane watch is in effect for portions of Mexico near Cancun.
The storm is currently forecast to eventually affect Houston, New Orleans and other places along the northern side of the Gulf of Mexico, Mr. Feltgen said.
The tropical depression designation is the first for a storm that has the potential to become a hurricane but has winds that are less than 39 miles per hour.
Both storm systems are expected to become hurricanes, but rest assured: Despite social media speculation, two major storms in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time will not collide to form a single monster storm, Mr. Feltgen said.
“They cannot merge,” he said. “They actually repel each other because of the rotations.”
It’s too early to know how closely their paths will track, he said.
“It’s too early to tell yet,” Mr. Feltgen said. “One would be on one side of the gulf and the other on the other side of the gulf, but right now, there is too much uncertainty about this.”
This year’s hurricane season is expected to be one of the most active on record, according to the National Weather Service.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this month updated its forecast for the remainder of this year’s season, estimating that by the time the hurricane season is over on Nov. 30, there will have been up to 25 named storms.
Seven to 11 of the named storms would have eventually become hurricanes with winds at 74 miles per hour or more, NOAA scientists said, including three to six major hurricanes during the season.
Even with a forecast of up to 25 named storms, meteorologists still do not expect a season as active as the 2005 hurricane season, which had 28 named storms.
Christina Morales contributed reporting.