Hurricane watches and warnings are already in effect for St. Martin, Antigua, Anguilla and Barbuda now that Hurricane Jose has strengthened into a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
On Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center warned that Jose could intensify, stating that at 11 a.m., the hurricane’s eye was moving west-northwest near 18 mph. “A gradual turn toward the northwest with a decrease in forward speed is expected during the next 48 hours. On the forecast track, the center of Jose will pass near or east of the northeastern Leeward Islands on Saturday,” they predicted.
Recent data from an Air Force Hurricane Hunter plane indicates that maximum sustained winds are near 150 mph, with higher gusts. Some fluctuations in intensity are possible for the next day or so, and gradual weakening is expected after that.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 35 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles, according to the latest report.
Jose will arrive in the already battered Caribbean islands just days after Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc and destruction as a Category 5 hurricane — the most powerful class. Now, some of those same islands could be hit by Jose. In St. Martin, for example, an official said that 95 percent of the island had been destroyed, The New York Times reported.
Irma was downgraded to a Category 4 rating early Friday as it threatens to mow down Florida on Saturday.
Meanwhile, another storm in the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Katia, has put parts of Mexico under hurricane watches and warnings, according to the NHC. Add that to the huge earthquake that rocked Mexico in the middle of the night on Thursday.
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11 AM EDT UPDATE from National Hurricane Center on IRMA