Rare twin storms heading to Gulf of Mexico; oil workers evacuated

NEW YORK • Rare twin storms have formed over the Caribbean, packing powerful winds and heavy rain as they head towards the Gulf of Mexico.

Tropical Storm Marco has top winds of 65kmh and was forecast to cross Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula late yesterday, the United States National Hurricane Centre said in an advisory at 11pm in New York on Friday. Tropical Storm Laura has top winds of 72kmh and is expected to move west across much of the Greater Antilles this weekend, said the hurricane centre.

Laura has prompted warnings from the Caribbean to Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, while Mexico issued tropical storm watches along the Yucatan coastline.

Both systems are likely to reach the gulf early this week as Category 1 hurricanes, threatening people and oil and natural gas production. As the two storms get closer, they could influence each other.

"It is obviously a situation that could change quite a bit," said Mr Brad Harvey, a meteorologist with commercial forecaster Maxar. "Anywhere along the Gulf of Mexico has a potential threat from this."

Noble Corp is already moving two offshore rigs out of the storms' path. BHP has begun evacuating employees from its four operated platforms in the gulf and is beginning to shut production.

Storms in the gulf, even weak ones, can disrupt energy markets. In June, a weak Tropical Storm Cristobal knocked out about one-third of offshore oil and natural gas production in the gulf. The region accounts for about 16 per cent of crude and 2.4 per cent of US natural gas output.

The last time two storms ranged through the gulf at the same time was 1959, said Dr Phil Klotzbach, lead author of the Colorado State University seasonal hurricane forecast. The only other time was in 1933.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 23, 2020, with the headline 'Rare twin storms heading to Gulf of Mexico; oil workers evacuated'. Subscribe