Hurricane Jose moves over  the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of the US on Monday. Picture: NASA/REUTERS
Hurricane Jose moves over the Atlantic Ocean off the east coast of the US on Monday. Picture: NASA/REUTERS

New York/Atlanta — Hurricane Jose churned towards the northeastern US and could cause swells along the coast by midweek, says the US National Hurricane Centre, while tropical storm Maria was expected to become a hurricane on Monday and threaten already battered Caribbean islands.

Jose, which was about 571km southeast of North Carolina on Monday morning, could move well off the coast of New Jersey and New York by Wednesday morning. It may weaken to a tropical storm again by then, the centre said.

Jose looks more likely to skirt the east coast of the US, even as tropical storm Maria barrels towards the Caribbean. The storm was about 650km southeast of the Leeward Islands at about 2pm in New York on Monday, according to the hurricane centre. The centre of Maria was expected to move across the Leeward Islands on 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.

On Monday the government of Barbados 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 11am New York time on Monday, Jose was moving northwards at about 14km/h with maximum sustained winds of almost 145km/h.

Jose was forecast to remain a hurricane on early Tuesday, the centre said. Tropical storm watches may be issued on the east coast, the centre said in its latest advisory.

Rip currents 

Life-threatening rip currents are expected along parts of the US 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 of oil a day, Bloomberg data showed. If it were to veer more towards New York City, Jose could disrupt vessels carrying crude oil, petrochemicals and refined products along the Atlantic seaboard, said Shun-ondo Basu, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance meteorologist and natural gas analyst.

Some forecasters see Jose staying far enough offshore to avoid any major effects on the US. The hurricane centre’s margin of error for a storm five days out is about 362km, on average.

In 2012, Superstorm Sandy created about $70bn of damage after hitting the New York metropolitan region.

AccuWeather sees the storm tracking close enough to the coast to produce heavy seas and gusty winds, as well as to deliver rain early in the week.

Jose may affect five refineries along the east coast that are able to process about 1.1-million barrels of oil a day

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

There was a 50% 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 continued on its path, the most immediate effect could be high surf and beach erosion along the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts, Masters said.

The hurricane centre said that Maria, which was elevated to a tropical storm on Saturday, was likely to become a hurricane later on Monday.

It had winds of 104km/h with higher gusts and was expected to strengthen over the following 48 hours.

AccuWeather shows Maria striking the Lesser Antilles as a category 2 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of up to 177km/h on Monday night or Tuesday morning, and growing into a category 3 storm with winds of up to 207km/h when striking Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands on Wednesday.

Hurricane watches are also in effect for the islands of 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.

Storm watches

Tropical storm Norma, meanwhile, was expected to weaken into a tropical depression by late Monday or Tuesday, the hurricane centre said. As of noon New York time, the storm was about 225km/h 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 75km/h. Some weakening was expected, and Norma was 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 hurricane centre said. Lee was forecast to drift west or west-northwest for a few days and is not threatening land.

Bloomberg

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