NHC: Hurricane Jose Is Category 3
Hurricane Jose strengthened to a Category 3 storm on Thursday evening, according to the National Hurricane Center’s latest update at 5 p.m.
Currently, it’s about 590 miles east of the Lesser Antilles—a group of islands, which included the Virgin Islands, Saint Martin (which was devastated during Irma), Barbuda (also totally destroyed), and St. Barts (also damaged during Hurricane Irma).
Jose is now moving west-northwest at 18 mph. It has maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, making it a Category 3 system, the agency said.
A hurricane watch is in Antigua and Barbuda, and Jose could approach those islands Saturday morning.
It’s unclear, however, if Jose will take the same path as Irma.
Earlier on Thursday, Hurricane Jose was upgraded to a Category 2 storm. It was named as a hurricane Wednesday. On Tuesday, it was deemed a tropical storm.
The NHC’s model shows that Jose will take a more northern track and may not hit the United States. However, many of the Leeward Islands, Puerto Rico, and part of the Dominican Republic could be in the storm’s path.
Hurricane Irma barreled toward vulnerable Haiti on Thursday after devastating a string of Caribbean islands and killing at least 10 people as one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century took aim at Florida, as Reuters reported.
With winds of around 185 miles per hour (290 km per hour), the storm has smashed through several small islands in the northeast Caribbean in recent days, including Barbuda, Saint Martin and the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, ripping down trees and flattening homes and hospitals.
Winds dipped slightly on Thursday to 175 mph as the storm lashed the northern coast of the Dominican Republic but it remained an extremely dangerous Category 5 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). Irma is expected to hit Florida as a very powerful Category 4 on Sunday, with storm surges and flooding beginning within the next 48 hours.
“The amount of wind that’s coming in, we don’t think we’ve seen anything quite like this,” U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday after declaring a major disaster in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Reuters contributed to this report.