Hurricane Jose Aims for U.S. Northeast as Maria Strengthens

Updated on
  • Storms come on the heels of damaging hurricanes Harvey, Irma
  • Busy hurricane season underway with two more Atlantic storms

The Coming Storm of Climate Change

Hurricane Jose churned toward the U.S. Northeast and could cause swells along the coast by midweek, according to the National Hurricane Center, while Tropical Storm Maria is expected to become a hurricane later today and threaten already-battered Caribbean islands.

Jose was about 355 miles (571 kilometers) southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, at 11 a.m. New York time. Its path could put it well off the coast of New Jersey and New York by Wednesday morning, although it may weaken to a tropical storm again by then, the center said.

Jose looks more likely to skirt the East Coast of the U.S., even as tropical storm Maria barrels toward the Caribbean. The storm was about 405 miles southeast of the Leeward Islands at around 2 p.m. in New York, according to the hurricane center. The NHC expects the center of Maria is expected to move across the Leeward Islands Monday night.

The two storms build on a devastating 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, coming just after Hurricane Harvey inundated Texas and Hurricane Irma raked Florida’s west coast, leaving dozens of people dead and upending energy and agriculture markets. The government of Barbados today issued a hurricane warning regarding Maria for nearby Dominica, a step usually taken about 36 hours before the expected arrival of tropical-force winds. The government of France issued a similar warning for Guadeloupe.

As of 11 a.m., Jose was moving northward at about 9 miles per hour with maximum sustained winds of almost 90 mph. Jose is forecast to remain a hurricane through early Tuesday, the center said. Tropical storm watches may be issued on the east coast, the center said in its latest advisory.

Rip Currents

Life-threatening rip currents are expected along parts of the U.S. East Coast, and tropical storm watches may be needed for portions of the area from North Carolina to New England during the next day or two, according to the advisory, the 49th so far about the long-lived weather system.

Jose may affect five refineries along the East Coast that are able to process about 1.1 million barrels a day of oil, Bloomberg data showed.

If it were to veer more toward New York City, Jose could disrupt vessels carrying crude oil, petrochemicals and refined products along the Atlantic seaboard, “particularly those making deliveries to New York Harbor,” Shunondo Basu, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance meteorologist and natural gas analyst in New York, said on Friday.

Far Enough

Some forecasters see Jose staying far enough offshore to avoid any major impact to the U.S. The hurricane center’s margin of error for a storm five days out is about 225 miles, on average. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy created about $70 billion of damage after hitting the New York metropolitan region.

AccuWeather Inc. sees the storm tracking close enough to the coast -- within 200 miles -- to produce heavy seas and gusty winds, as well as to deliver rain to coastal areas early in the week.

Landfall in New England during the middle of the week can’t be ruled out, senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said in a statement. If landfall were to occur, the most likely location would be eastern Long Island or southeastern New England, especially Cape Cod.

There’s a 50 percent chance of tropical storm-force winds for Nantucket, Massachusetts, by Thursday, said Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

If Jose continues on its path, the most immediate impact could be high surf and considerable beach erosion along the shores of the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts, Masters said.


Likely Hurricane

The NHC said that Maria, which was elevated to a tropical storm Saturday, is likely to become a hurricane later today. It had winds of 65 mph with higher gusts and is expected to strengthen over the next 48 hours.

AccuWeather shows Maria striking the Lesser Antilles as a Category 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of up to 110 mph, Monday night or Tuesday morning, and growing into a Category 3 storm with winds of up to 129 mph when striking Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Wednesday.

Hurricane watches are also in effect for Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, St. Martin, St. Barthelemy, Nevis, Montserrat, Saba, St. Eustatius, and Anguilla, several of which were hit by Irma earlier this month. A tropical storm warning is also in effect for St. Lucia and Martinique, with several other islands subject to tropical storm watches.

Tropical Storm Norma, meanwhile, is expected to weaken into a tropical depression by late Monday or Tuesday, the hurricane center said. As of noon New York time, the storm was about 140 miles south-southwest of the popular tourist designation, Cabo San Lucas. Tropical storm watches are in effect, with heavy rain likely and maximum sustained winds of about 45 mph. Some weakening is expected for the next 48 hours, the advisory said, and Norma is expected to become a tropical depression by late Monday or Tuesday.

Tropical Storm Lee, located west-southwest of the Cabo Verde Islands in the central Atlantic, was downgraded to a depression, the NHC said. Lee is forecast to drift slowly west or west-northwest for a few days and is not currently threatening land.

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