BOSTON (CBS) – We have a little tropical fatigue here in the U.S., and with good reason.
After Harvey and Irma battered parts of the south, it sure would be nice to miss the next few. Next in the hopper is Jose, which has been drifting around east of the Bahamas for days waiting for a chance to start heading north. It will begin that trek on Friday, and it is looking increasingly likely it will be a close call for us here in New England with at least *some* impacts to be expected.
So far as intensity goes…Jose currently looks like junk (as I write this on Thursday…will look better later). It has been battling wind shear and some of that should continue on Friday and Saturday. Southwesterly winds will hold the storm’s intensity in check, not allowing it to become much stronger than a Cat 1 hurricane. That shear may relax on Sunday and especially on Monday though, and that will be the window in which Jose could become a stronger hurricane again off the Carolina coast. Category 1 strength is currently forecast by the hurricane center, but I wouldn’t rule out a run at Category 2 either (with Cat 3 unlikely, but not impossible). It’ll be traversing the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and it won’t take too much for it to beef up again once the shear relaxes a little.
Lots of southwest shear crossing Florida and out ahead of Jose’s path. This should keep it at tropical storm status, or perhaps a minimal hurricane into Saturday.
One thing we absolutely expect up and down the eastern seaboard is wave action. As the storm spins and becomes stronger, there should be widespread rip currents and big waves from the southeast coast to New England. Here locally, expect those waves to start ramping up on Sunday but really build Monday into Tuesday. The south coast beaches will see the largest waves and along the Rhode Island shore as well. Great for surfers but with mild weather continuing be careful in the water as rip currents could become very strong.
Surf’s up! Big waves will be likely, ramping up Sunday night and continuing to build Monday and Tuesday
A key detail to watch is our coastal flooding threat, because timing is not in our favor with Jose. Tuesday into Wednesday brings a new moon phase and our highest tides of the entire month. Any onshore wind would produce minor flooding, and significant onshore wind could produce moderate to major flooding if the storm tracks close enough. The combo of high astronomical tides and a storm that will bring a couple days of onshore wind is a recipe for coastal flooding. This could be a problem even if the center stays well out to sea.
The exact track is still somewhat in question but it is not a classic setup for a New England hurricane. Typically you’d want to see a huge block over the Canadian Maritime and/or a deep trough digging into the Ohio Valley ‘capturing’ the storm and drawing it west. Once a storm gets to our latitude, it’s tough to get a westward movement unless you have one of these ingredients in place. Otherwise the prevailing westerlies end up carrying it out to sea in a typical ‘recurve.’ For Jose, we have ridging over the Atlantic and ridging building down out of the Great Lakes. The only reason it’s starting to move north this weekend is because there is a weakness between the two allowing it to head out of the tropics.
Not exactly a classic pattern to run a hurricane up into New England, which hopefully will mean good news for us here locally.
Much of the guidance has the storm tracking between Bermuda and the East Coast over the weekend, and then the spread becomes larger once it gets to the approximate latitude of Maryland. The question is whether the ridge will block the storm’s progress and slow it down, spinning off or near the NJ coastline…or will it get close to us and then get pushed out to sea southeast of Nantucket? An actual landfall here in southern New England looks unlikely…I would favor one of these other two scenarios. A stalled out spinning storm, even weakened, could produce a lot of erosion and coastal issues for us. Hopefully the exact movement will become more clear in the next 24-48 hours.
One thing that is *good* for us is that water south of New England is quite cool. Much cooler than average, in fact. Most of the sea surface temps are in the 60s, which is not able to sustain a strong hurricane. Even if Jose can get up to a potent hurricane over Sunday and Monday, it’s relatively slow movement in our direction would lead to immediate weakening on approach. This isn’t an Irma situation…a strong hurricane has little chance of getting to us.
As soon as Jose passes the Gulf Stream and heads up off the Jersey coast, it will encounter much cooler waters. 20C = 68F
That being said, we might end up with impacts similar to a strong nor’easter. Let’s say the center passes southeast of Nantucket on Tuesday night (near the ‘benchmark’). This would likely lash us with some rainbands, especially far eastern Massachusetts, and bring damaging wind gusts. Storms when all the leaves are out are different than winter nor’easters because those leaves act as sails. Even a period of gusts 40-65mph would bring down a lot of trees and power outages, not to mention the coastal flooding issues.
It is looking more likely that we won’t be able to completely miss the storm, so it’s one to keep close tabs on over the weekend. And if you’re on the water, especially toward the Cape and Islands, monitor the forecast especially closely. If it makes a pass closer to the coast, this could be good reason to take the boat out of the water for the season this weekend since we’re already approaching the back half of September. Farther east and it will be no big deal. But wouldn’t want anyone to get caught in a lurch come Monday morning! We will keep you updated.