Hurricane Season Ramps Up As Tropical Storms Gordon and Florence Threaten U.S.

September 4, 2018, 1:27 PM UTC

Labor Day doesn’t just mark the end of summer, it’s unofficially when hurricane season kicks into high gear. And for 2018, the post-holiday period has meteorologists closely watching two tropical storms.

Tropical Storm Gordon is the primary concern. The disturbance is expected to reach hurricane status before it hits the Gulf coast Tuesday evening. A hurricane warning is in effect from Mississippi to the Alabama/Florida border. As of 7 a.m. ET Tuesday, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 65 mph.

Gordon’s expected to be a quick moving storm with heavy rains and possible tornadoes. The National Hurricane Center calls the storm “life threatening.” Schools have been closed along the coast and governors in Mississippi and Louisiana have already declared a state of emergency as the storm advances.

Meanwhile, off the eastern seaboard, Tropical Storm Florence is headed toward the United States. Current spaghetti forecast models indicate that storm will spin off to sea. But forecasters warn that the storm, which is expected to achieve hurricane status by Sunday, is still far out in the Atlantic and could change course.

Neither storm, at present, is remotely close to the major hurricanes that dominated 2017. Just shy of one year ago, on September 10, Hurricane Irma made landfall on Marco Island, Fla. That storm racked up estimated damages of nearly $100 billion.

Hurricane season officially began on June 1 this year and runs through November 30. Forecasters, though, say late summer is the time that worries them the most, in part because ocean waters are especially warm, which can strengthen storms.

Gordon and Florence aren’t the only storms forecasters are watching. A third disturbance off the coast of Africa could become a cyclone is expected to become a tropical depression later this week. If it does, the storm would be named Helene.