What Irma did in those final critical hours before finally reaching Florida was an abject lesson in the folly of trying to predict how a hurricane hundreds of miles at sea will behave when it approaches land.
The case of Jose is even more problematical. Before nearing Florida, Irma was moving almost due west, steered along the southern flank of the clockwise circulation around high pressure.
Jose literally is looking loopy. The National Hurricane Center on Tuesday called it “a rather amorphous blob,” situated in the Atlantic on Tuesday about 650 miles north of Puerto Rico, and its forecast path is somewhere between bizarre and counterintuitive.
It is expected to move southeast, lose its already minimal hurricane status, then behave like a knuckleball, curving toward the northwest before regaining its Category 1 hurricane strength on Thursday, with peak winds of 75 to 80 mph.
During the weekend the projected track has it well off the Florida and Georgia coasts, and the model consensus keeps it at sea, but five days is a quasi-eternity in the hurricane-forecasting universe.
The National Weather Service Office in Mount Holly is cautioning people against buying into anything just yet.
One impact already evident, however, is the rough surf.
Irma already had the ocean stirred up, and now Jose is becoming the dominant agitator, the weather service says.
The forecast for Tuesday has a “high risk” for rip currents along the Delaware and Jersey beaches, and sees a “moderate to potentially high risk of rip currents through the weekend.”