While the United States deals with the major catastrophe that is the coronavirus pandemic, it battles one active state of emergency in California and prepares for two looming natural disasters next week.
As if the year 2020 has not been devastating enough, a cataclysmic situation is unfolding which could put the United States in the position of having to deal with four major calamities occurring at the same time.
As Americans mostly hunker down and guard their actions amid the coronavirus pandemic, tens of thousands of people have been forced to flee their homes, with more evacuations likely, as over 300 wildfires rage in California where a state of emergency has been declared.
Now, forecasters for the National Hurricane Center (NHC) are warning that an historic never-happened-before event could occur next week.
Two tropical cyclones, which could become Category 1 hurricanes, could not only make landfall in the US on the same day and at about the same time, but may make an unprecedented strike in the same region.
On Wednesday, California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency. Newsom told reporters that the state was currently battling 367 known fires, The Guardian reported. Mandatory evacuation orders affecting tens of thousands of people were issued. At least 5 fatalities have occurred.
The state has experienced a “historic” level of lightning strikes which have been the main cause of the fires, which have been exacerbated by a week-long heat wave and compounded by sustained, strong winds.
However, the areas of California consumed by fire more than doubled in size on Thursday. “Complexes” of the many small fires merged into larger fires, the Washington Post reported.
As on had occurred a day earlier, on Thursday, evacuations surged again forcing additional tens of thousands more out of their homes and neighborhoods.
California remains under a state of emergency and officials are warning every resident of the state to prepare a bag filled with necessities and be ready to evacuate their homes at a moment’s notice.
California is only at the beginning of its wildfire season and has seen four consecutive years of record-setting fires.
As people are forced into crowded shelters to escape fires, concerns are rising that it could lead to increased transmission of COVID-19 among evacuees.
Forecasters from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) are closely monitoring two tropical systems which are projected to head toward the Gulf of Mexico and could make landfall in the US on Wednesday.
Early on Friday, Tropical Storm Laura formed in the Atlantic with maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. Laura set a record for the earliest 12th named storm in any Atlantic hurricane season, WESH 2 Orlando reported.
The other storm forecasters are watching is tropical depression #14, which is expected to become a tropical storm as early as late Friday, or within the next couple of days, Brevard Times reports.
It currently has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph. A depression becomes a tropical storm when it reaches 39 miles per hour. It is expected to be near or at hurricane strength late Saturday when it reaches the Yucatán Polin Silla of Mexico.
There is yet a third storm in the Atlantic, and the next names in line are Marco and Nana.
One forecast model shows both storms striking the US around 1 AM on Wednesday, August 26. However, parts of Florida may begin experiencing the effects of the storms as early as Monday.
Tropical Storm Laura is projected to be a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph sustained winds as it approaches the Gulf Coast, but may downgrade to a tropical storm with sustained winds of 50 mph when it makes landfall somewhere in the Gulf near Eastern Texas or along the Texas-Louisiana border.
Tropical storm #14 is expected to make landfall as a category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 75 mph somewhere near the Alabama-Florida Panhandle order.
The cone of both storms extended from the center of Florida into southeastern Texas. However, the crossover of the cones shows portions of Louisiana getting a dose of both storms near New Orleans, which could result in a catastrophic flooding situation.