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posted on 16 September 2017

Jose, Norma and a New Threat - 16Sep2017

Written by Sig Silber

This Article has been updated and can now be accessed at Extreme Concern about Maria - 17Sep2017

6:00 PM EDT Sept 16, 2017  Need to Focus on Maria. But we can not ignore Jose as it is closer. From the NHC: "An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter made two passes through Jose's center and found that the central pressure has dropped to 973 mb." "The NHC track forecast has shifted slightly eastward to account for the updated initial position, and it lies down the middle of the guidance envelope. It should be noted that a few models, such as the ECMWF and UKMET, lie west of the forecast track, which does not rule out the possibility that Jose may move closer to the U.S. east coast than shown in the official forecast."

Special Landing Graphic for Hurricane Jose

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This is an active period in the tropics so we are starting with the overview of the situation in both the Pacific and the Atlantic. Those potentially impacted by any of these storms should consult their local sources of information. The Public Advisories and other information that is available from the NOAA National Hurricane Center can be found here. Information from the Weather Prediction Center can be found here.

First the Atlantic

Eastern Tropical Pacific

Note Tropical Storm Maria. It is a real threat!!!!!!!!!!

And now the Pacific. 

Eastern Tropical Pacific 

Norma is probably not much of a threat except for Baja California. Otis is moving to the west.

The two most dangerous storms right now are in the Atlantic.

Here is the current Track Map for Jose. 

Tropical Storm Jose

Notice it is projected to go out to sea. The issue is when? Does it take a small move west first? What about Nova Scotia and Cape Cod? The most recent discussion from NHC is more optimistic. We will pay close attention to this evening's NHC Discussion.

Jose Discussion

Hurricane Jose Discussion Number 46 NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL 500 PM EDT Sat Sep 16 2017

An Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunter made two passes through Jose's center and found that the central pressure has dropped to 973 mb.  A 700-mb flight-level wind of 82 kt was measured in an outer band to the northeast of the center, but the highest observed SFMR wind was 65 kt.  Based on these data, Jose's initial intensity is held at 70 kt.  The lack of significant intensification in spite of the lower central pressure is probably due to an expansion of the wind field, which was observed by the reconnaissance aircraft.

The aircraft fixes suggest that the center, or at least the mid-level center, has been reforming or meandering.  Smoothing through the fixes suggests that Jose is moving slowly northward, or 360/5 kt.  This motion, with some acceleration, is expected during the next 3 days while Jose moves around the western periphery of the subtropical ridge.  The cyclone is then expected to turn northeastward and accelerate by the end of the forecast period when it enters the mid-latitude westerlies.  The NHC track forecast has shifted slightly eastward to account for the updated initial position, and it lies down the middle of the guidance envelope.  It should be noted that a few models, such as the ECMWF and UKMET, lie west of the forecast track, which does not rule out the possibility that Jose may move closer to the U.S. east coast than shown in the official forecast.

Jose has a short period of time, perhaps 24 hours or so, when the shear remains steady and there is an opportunity for some slight strengthening.  However, the shear is expected to increase over 30 kt after 24 hours, which should cause Jose to gradually weaken.  The hurricane is likely to move north of the Gulf Stream in about 72 hours, and the official intensity forecast calls for Jose to weaken to a tropical storm at that time, and continue weakening as it moves eastward away from New England.


1. The center of Jose is forecast to pass well east of the North Carolina coast on Monday, and tropical-storm-force winds are currently expected to remain offshore of the North Carolina Outer Banks. However, an additional increase in the size of the storm or a westward adjustment in the track forecast could bring tropical storm conditions closer to the Outer Banks, and interests there should monitor the progress of Jose through Monday.

2. While Jose is currently forecast to remain offshore of the U.S . coast from Virginia northward to New England, the large cyclone could cause some direct impacts to these areas and any deviation to the left of the NHC forecast track would increase the likelihood and magnitude of those impacts. Interests along the U.S. east coast from Virginia to New England should monitor the progress of Jose through the next several days.

3. Swells generated by Jose are affecting Bermuda, the Bahamas, the northern coasts of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, and much of the U.S. east coast. These swells are likely to cause dangerous surf and rip current conditions for the next several days in these areas.


INIT  16/2100Z 28.9N  71.9W   70 KT  80 MPH

12H  17/0600Z 29.6N  71.9W   75 KT  85 MPH

24H  17/1800Z 30.9N  71.8W   75 KT  85 MPH

36H  18/0600Z 32.3N  71.6W   70 KT  80 MPH

48H  18/1800Z 33.8N  71.5W   65 KT  75 MPH

72H  19/1800Z 37.1N  70.8W   60 KT  70 MPH

96H  20/1800Z 40.0N  68.0W   55 KT  65 MPH

120H  21/1800Z 41.0N  63.0W   50 KT  60 MPH

And another one, currently Tropical Storm Maria, that now appears to be the main threat.

Tropical Depression 15

And the Discussion

Tropical Storm Maria Discussion Number  2 NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL 500 PM AST Sat Sep 16 2017

Satellite images indicate that the system located several hundred miles east of the Lesser Antilles has become much better organized throughout the day.  The low-level center of circulation is now well defined, and banding features have become better established in all quadrants.  The initial wind speed is increased to 45 kt, in agreement with a Dvorak classification from TAFB.  This makes the system a tropical storm, Maria becomes the thirteenth named storm in the Atlantic basin this season.

Maria is moving quickly westward at 17 kt on the south side of a mid-level ridge.  This ridge is expected to remain in place but weaken some, which should cause Maria to move west-northwestward at a progressively slower pace through the forecast period.  The models are in fair agreement, and the NHC official track forecast is closest to the HCCA model.  This forecast takes the core of Maria near the Leeward Islands in 48 to 72 hours, and close to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico in about 4 days.

The tropical storm is located within conducive environmental  conditions of low wind shear, high amounts of moisture, and over warm 29 deg C SSTs.  Since these conditions are not expected to change much, steady or even rapid strengthening is likely during the next 3 to 4 days.  Slight weakening is predicted by the end of the forecast period due to some land interaction and a slight increase in wind shear.  The NHC intensity forecast is raised significantly from the previous one to come into better agreement with the latest guidance.


1. Maria is expected to strengthen and affect portions of the Leeward Islands as a hurricane early next week, bringing dangerous wind, storm surge and rainfall hazards.  Hurricane and tropical storm watches have been issued for portions of the Lesser Antilles, and additional watches will likely be issued tonight and Sunday.

2. Maria could also affect the British and U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by mid week as a dangerous major hurricane, and hurricane watches could be issued for these islands as early as Sunday.  Interests in these areas should monitor the progress of Maria and follow any advice given by local officials.


INIT  16/2100Z 12.3N  52.6W   45 KT  50 MPH

12H  17/0600Z 13.0N  54.5W   55 KT  65 MPH

24H  17/1800Z 13.9N  56.6W   65 KT  75 MPH

36H  18/0600Z 14.6N  58.3W   70 KT  80 MPH

48H  18/1800Z 15.2N  59.8W   80 KT  90 MPH

72H  19/1800Z 16.5N  62.7W   95 KT 110 MPH

96H  20/1800Z 17.9N  65.5W  105 KT 120 MPH

120H  21/1800Z 19.5N  68.6W   95 KT 110 MPH

Now Norma.

Tropical Storm Norma

The general conclusion at this point in time is that Norma is mostly a Baja Mexico event and moisture entering CONUS will stay along the Southern Tier and not enter the general circulation i.e. will not make its way to the Northeast.  There is a chance it will head west rather than east. You can see that the official track is not longer showing a turn to the east. That is why we are not showing the discussion this time as it is in flux but we will show the discussion with the evening report. The discussion is available from NHC.

And one more (Former Tropical Depression 14 Just Declared to be Tropical Storm Lee) just in case it becomes relevant.

Tropical Depression 14

General Weather Situation

We believe that it is easier to understand what is going on with individual storms if they are put into the context of the overall weather situation.

Three day

The graphic above is particularly useful as it shows the forecasted conditions that might determine the future of a storm beyond the predictions of where the storm might be on Day 3. This graphic is updated frequently. 

Some of the graphics below show the two storms of most interest. Other graphics will be more relevant for Jose as it moves north and comes into view.

Day 1 Forecast Map

Day 2 Forecast

This is a Day 2 Forecast.

Additional Graphics

More explanation on Atmospheric Rivers can be found by clicking here or if you want more theoretical information by clicking here.

Atmospheric Rivers

This is a national animation of weather fronts and precipitation forecasts with four 6-hour projections of the conditions that will apply covering the next 24 hours and a second day of two 12-hour projections the second of which is the forecast for 48 hours out and to the extent it applies for 12 hours, this animation is intended to provide coverage out to 60 hours. This graphic is now very relevant  as one can see three storms in this graphic. .

current highs and lows

The explanation for the coding used in these maps, i.e. the full legend, can be found here although it includes some symbols that are no longer shown in the graphic because they are implemented by color coding.

Precipitation Forecast

You can see the forecast for seven days of cumulative precipitation. It is important to keep in mind that these are forecasts going forward. Precipitation that has already occurred does not show up in these forecasts but will show up in the 30 day maps we show in our weekly Weather and Climate Report. That did not show up in our September 11 Report but it will show up in the September 18 Report. You can already see a preliminary precipitation QPF for Jose. It is mostly offshore.

 Water Vapor Imagery

The water vapor imagery is a good guide to where precipitation is occurring.

Click here for a list of Sig Silber's Weather Posts

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