by Mark Albert
Animation shows Category 4 Hurricanes Irma and Jose, the first time on record two Category 4 hurricanes have been in the Atlantic at the same time; courtesy: NASA-NOAA
(TVR) – Hurricane Jose is creeping closer to the U.S. East Coast, with tropical storm watches now issued from Delaware to New Jersey, and New York to Massachusetts, including extremely populated areas such as Long Island Sound, and popular tourist spots Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
While not expected to make landfall, Jose could dump up to five inches of rain on parts of the U.S. mainland, so some airlines issued travel waivers Monday for several of the East Coast’s biggest airports, including New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.
The storm regained hurricane status after a listless week in the Atlantic and is now headed northward, parallel with the United States, with the East Coast likely to at least be impacted by “dangerous surf and rip currents.”
Jose had been a category four hurricane last week, roaring north of Puerto Rico and threatening some of the same Caribbean islands already walloped by Hurricane Irma and now threatened by Hurricane Maria.
Along with Hurricane Irma, it had been the first time two hurricanes with 150mph and higher winds have been recorded in the Atlantic at the same time.
Already, swells from Jose “are affecting Bermuda, the Bahamas, the northern coasts of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, and the southeast coast of the United States,” the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a forecast discussion.
Maximum sustained winds have decreased slightly to 85 mph.
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Jose is the 10th named storm of the already “above-normal” 2017 hurricane season, and the third major hurricane of the year.
The NWS is warning that Jose’s swells will reach the Mid-Atlantic coast and southern New England in the next few days.
Tropical-storm-force winds “are expected to extend well west of the center and could approach the North Carolina Outer Banks on Monday,” an advisory said.
A “hurricane hunter” aircraft surveyed the storm and found maximum sustained winds near 75mph, with tropical-storm-force winds extending out 140 miles from the storm’s center.
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NOAA has predicted the 2017 hurricane season will be “above-normal” this year, with far-reaching implications for airlines, cruise ships, and travelers in North America.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration updated its hurricane forecast to increase the number of named storms and major hurricanes it expects, as well as predicting a “higher likelihood” of an above-normal season.
In fact, the hurricane season that began June 1st and lasts until the end of November could be “the most active since 2010,” NOAA said in its forecast.
“This season has had a running start,” Ben Friedman, NOAA’s acting administrators, told reporters this month.
“We’re now entering the peak of the season when the bulk of the storms usually form,” added Dr. Gerry Bell, the lead seasonal hurricane forecaster at the Climate Prediction Center.
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NOAA forecasters predict the 2017 hurricane season will be “extremely active,” with 14 to 19 named storms.
The outlook is based on warmer waters in the Atlantic and a reduced chance of an El Nino pattern forming, which can prevent storms from gathering strength.
That’s the total number of storms in an entire average season, NOAA said.
Four of the storms hit the United States, with Jose possibly the fifth to do so.
“As we enter the height of hurricane season, it’s important for everyone to know who issues evacuation orders in their community, heed the warnings, update their insurance and have a preparedness plan,” said FEMA Administrator Brock Long in a statement.
Before Harvey struck, a major hurricane with sustained winds of 111 mpg and higher had not made landfall in the U.S. in 12 years, not since Hurricane Wilma in 2005, CNN reported.
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