Tropical Storm Gonzalo expected to become season’s first hurricane; tropical depression in Gulf of Mexico

(CNN) — The most active part of the hurricane season is still weeks away, but experts’ predictions for a busy season appear to be holding true, with the National Hurricane Center now monitoring two systems.

Tropical Storm Gonzalo, which formed Wednesday, is expected to become the first hurricane of the season on Thursday. Meantime, a tropical depression has formed in the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to strengthen into a tropical storm by Friday, the National Hurricane Center said.

A hurricane watch has been issued for Barbados, as Gonzalo is expected to strengthen into a hurricane over Thursday and peak at a Category 1, CNN meteorologist Robert Shackelford said. A watch is typically issued 48 hours before tropical storm force winds are anticipated to reach the location, according to the National Hurricane Center.

At 11 a.m. Thursday, Gonzalo had sustained winds of 65 mph and was about 585 miles east of the Southern Windward Islands.

Tropical Depression 8 brewing

Tropical Depression Eight formed in the Gulf of Mexico Wednesday night and was about 425 miles off the coast of Port O’Connor, Texas, Thursday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

With winds of 30 mph, the system is expected to strengthen to a tropical storm by Friday, the hurricane center said.

If it does, the storm will be named Tropical storm Hanna, breaking the record for the earliest H-named storm set by Tropical Storm Harvey on August 3, 2005.

A Tropical Storm Watch is now in effect from Port Mansfield to High Island, Texas.

Gonzalo sets early records

Tropical storm Gonzalo marks the earliest that a storm has received a name starting with the letter “G” since the United States began using a named-storm system in 1953. On average, the seventh named storm in a season is on September 16.

The previous record for the earliest seventh named storm formation in the Atlantic was Gert on July 24 during the busiest hurricane season on record, 2005.

“The tropical Atlantic looks extremely conducive for an active season,” Philip Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University told CNN.

“While 2020 may beat 2005 to the 7th named storm, 2005 had already had 3 hurricanes and 2 (of those were) major hurricanes (Dennis and Emily) by July 21. 2020 has yet to have a named storm reach hurricane strength,” tweeted Klotzbach.

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