How Jose could affect Hurricane Maria's career

Guadeloupe Hurricane Maria
A road is empty in Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe early Tuesday after the passing of Hurricane Maria.

While powerful Hurricane Maria has been devastating the Caribbean, off the Carolina coast Jose was holding on to its hurricane credentials with winds of 75 mph, just enough to qualify as a Category 1.

As predicted, Jose has remained well offshore and, as predicted, has set off some coastal flooding at the Jersey Shore with reports of water filled roads in Cape May County, including on Delsea Drive.

A flood warning was in effect at the Shore until 1 a.m. Wednesday with “widespread road flooding” and minor property damage possible, the National Weather Service says.

Of course, that would be an April shower compared to what is happening in the Caribbean, where Maria – another Category 5 hurricane with peak winds of 160 mph – is exploiting the same favorable storm environment mined by Irma.

For now the computer models are virtually unanimous in keeping Maria away from the U.S. East Coast, but that is by no means a certainty.

Track errors this far out are on the order of hundreds of miles, notes Bryan Norcross, hurricane specialist at the Weather Channel and a tropical-storm veteran.

“I don’t want to promise anyone anything,” said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and spokesman for the National Hurricane Center. “There’s a lot of balls in the air.”

One of them is Jose, which, unlike Maria, is a large storm as hurricanes go. It might well be a nuisance the next few days, but East Coast residents and property owners should be rooting hard for Jose.

Winds move counterclockwise around centers of storms, thus winds on the east side of Jose are from the south. Those would tend to keep Maria out to sea, says Norcross.

If Jose should weaken or dissipate, Maria could come closer or even approach the East Coast, he said.

Any such threat would be a week or more away, however, and it remains unclear how much the encounters with mountainous terrain in the Caribbean terrain will affect Maria’s intensity and path.

Maria, Norcross says, is a small storm, with an eye a mere 10 miles in diameter; the entire island of Bermuda would have fit in Irma’s eye. Thus the damage patterns likely will be radically different.

If it does eventually become an East Coast threat, says Norcross, it would be more likely to impact areas from North Carolina northward, rather than Florida.

Go Jose!