For the first time in recorded history, three tropical storm systems are threatening the U.S. simultaneously and a fourth could quickly join the ranks.

Hurricanes Madeline (left) and Lester (right). Earth / Nullschool

Two back-to-back storms — currently Hurricanes Madeline and Lester — could hit Hawaii’s Big Island this week, while two others are forecast to impact North Carolina and Florida’s Gulf Coast. If either storm makes landfall on the Big Island as a hurricane, it would be the first since record-keeping began.

As Jeff Masters put it from WunderBlog:

National Hurricane Center has issued a Hurricane Watch for the Florida Gulf Coast from the Anclote River to Indian Pass, and a Tropical Storm Watch for the Florida Gulf Coast west of Indian Pass to the Walton/Bay County line. You’d wouldn’t guess from Tropical Depression Nine’s appearance on satellite imagery, though, that the storm could become a hurricane by Thursday. TD 9 struggled with dry air and wind shear all day Tuesday, and a NOAA hurricane hunter aircraft on Tuesday afternoon found that top sustained winds had remained near 35 mph, and the central pressure had remained constant at 1004 mb. TD 9 continued to bring heavy rains to western Cuba during the day Tuesday, though; Santa Lucia in Pinar Del Rio province reported a 36-hour rainfall total of 317.4 mm (12.50") ending at 8 a.m. EDT. Additional heavy rains of 3–5" are likely over western Cuba before TD 9 finally pulls away on Wednesday.

MODIS visible satellite image of Tropical Depression Nine in the southern Gulf of Mexico on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 30. NASA

For a deeper dive:

News: Mashable , Gizmodo , AP , NBC News , CNN , Washington Post , Reuters , CNBC , Tampa Bay Times , USA Today

Commentary: Pacific Standard, Eric Holthaus column

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