Katia was initially measured as a Category 1 storm with 75 miles per hour winds – far less powerful than Irma, which is quickly approaching Florida, and Jose which remains farther out in the Atlantic Ocean.
Hurricane Jose continued to gather strength far out in the Atlantic and was nearing Category 5 strength as it churned east-southeast of the Northern Leeward Islands.
Irma’s powerful center could pass just north of Puerto Rico – a U.S. territory of about 3.4 million people – on Wednesday afternoon and night, threatening heavy rain and unsafe coastal storm surges, forecasters said. The center of Katia is expected to remain off the shore of Mexico through Friday morning. Katia is now about 185 miles northeast of the Mexican state of Veracruz, which is under hurricane watch.
Irma is a potentially catastrophic hurricane that will affect the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as Cuba, the Bahamas, the Florida Keys and peninsula and the southeastern USA coastal states.
Jose has winds of 75 miles per hour and is quickly strengthening, but poses no immediate threat to land. “We went from hurricanes being a non-issue to hurricanes being a daily event”.
And Tropical Storm Katia is in the southern Gulf and is expected to come ashore in eastern Mexico over the weekend. Current projections show it moving up the Atlantic, north of the Caribbean islands, becoming a Category 3 or more storm.
The eye of Irma passed over Barbuda, a tiny Caribbean island of about 1,800 people, on Wednesday, destroying telecommunication systems and cell towers. The storm could also impact the Florida Keys and parts of the Florida peninsula, but more accurate forecasts in the coming days will determine where, if at all, the storm makes landfall in the continental United States. It is expected to continue to move westward, and then more to the northwest later in the week.
The typical hurricane season, from June to November, typically produces 12 storms, with the average season only producing around three major named hurricanes. Prime Minister Gaston Browne said it’s possible a mandatory evacuation may be ordered by Friday.
Irma will still be a major hurricane by that time, but whether it retains Category 5 status is still uncertain.
Hurricane Irma, a Category Five storm further to the west, is now battering the Caribbean and threatening Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and south Florida.