Hurricane Jose Is Spinning in the Atlantic, Could Threaten Bahamas, Florida UPDATED

via NOAA
Update 5 a.m. For once, NOAA forecasters delivered some good news to Miami. Jose has now weakened to a minimal hurricane, and the latest tracks show the storm curving away from Florida by early next week.

Though it's been hours since Irma left the premises, there's already another Category 2 storm out in the Atlantic pointing ominously toward Florida. A couple hundred miles off Turks and Caicos, Hurricane Jose, with winds of 105 mph, is looping wildly in the central Atlantic Ocean, its final destination anyone's guess.

While Jose's trajectory is still uncertain, forecasters say there's at least a chance it could move northwest and hit the Bahamas — and possibly even Florida by next Monday. But at this point, the storm's odd path is too far out to predict accurately.

This past weekend, Irma, a devastating Category 4 hurricane, swept over the Florida Keys and then up Florida's Gulf Coast, becoming the third of this season's four catastrophic Atlantic hurricanes. In its wake, buildings were torn apart, torrential rains flooded the streets, and nearly seven million homes and businesses were left without power.

As of this morning, as Irma began moving toward Atlanta, thousands of weary South Floridians left shelters to return to their homes. Understandably, not too many in the Sunshine State have had time or attention for Jose.

The storm, which started as a tropical wave on the west coast of Africa on August 31, passed north of the outer Caribbean islands this past weekend. Despite local panic, it spared Barbuda, St. Martin, and Anguilla, all of which had been ravaged by Hurricane Irma. As Jose exited on Saturday evening, maximum wind speeds registered at 145 mph, along with a dangerous storm surge.

As of 11 a.m. this morning, the National Hurricane Center placed Jose 305 miles northeast of the Turks and Caicos Islands, moving northward at nine mph. Unlike other hurricanes in this part of the Atlantic, which tend to race out to sea, meteorologists expect Jose to make a tight clockwise loop in the open waters over three days, during which it will not affect any land areas.  According to the center, this is due to the rotation of a strengthening high-pressure system.

However, many forecasters anticipate that later this week Jose will move west-northwest toward the Bahamas
— which is currently in the five-day cone of uncertainty — and potentially, South Florida. Even so, due to high track error, models of the storm's trajectory show a wide range of possibilities, among them South Carolina, Newfoundland in Canada, and out to sea.

In the meantime, the hurricane center continues monitoring Jose's progression and intensity, while Hispaniola, the Bahamas, and the Turks and Caicos brace for rough surf and rip currents over the next few days.
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Isabella Vi Gomes was a writing fellow at Miami New Times. She graduated from Princeton University in 2016. She then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.