Northwest Florida dodged the impacts of Hurricane Irma last week, and now we are watching a new storm. Hurricane Maria is a Category 1 with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph moving west northwest at 15 mph.
The last Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft noted the formation of an open eyewall. Data collected indicate a compact circulation which could mean Maria is strengthening. In fact, the National Hurricane Center believes it could intensify significantly and could be a major hurricane in 48 hours.
Hurricane Maria is expected to stay on the west northwest path for quite some time but should slow in the next 36 hours as it approaches the Lesser Antilles. It is likely to impact the British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by midweek as a dangerous hurricane.
Meanwhile, up in the central Atlantic, Hurricane Jose is a Category 1 storm with winds at 80 mph. Jose is moving north at 9 mph. Tropical storm watches have been issued for a portion of the mid-Atlantic and New England coast.
The strong wind shear currently affecting Jose is expected to continue for another day or so. Jose will also move into a drier environment which could cause a slow weakening trend through the period.
Even with the weakening, models show Jose’s outer wind field will expand. And based on the current forecast, Hurricane Jose could bring heavier and widespread rainfall to southern New England, Long Island, New York City and New Jersey.
Tropical storm Lee’s winds are currently at 35 mph, moving west at 8 mph. Forecasters believe Lee will dissipate by the third day as the storm encounters increasing shear and a dry mid-level environment that will continue to take its toll on Lee.