The Natonal Hurricane Center (NHC) has confirmed that Hurricane Maria made landfall as a formidable Category 5 hurricane with 160 mph 256 km/h 139 knots wind. Gusts can go as high as 240 mph 384 km/h 209 knots! It has a central pressure 924 millibars. Maria is the second Category 5 hurricane of 2017 for the Atlantic. The last time there were more than one Category 5 hurricane was in 2007 with Dean and Felix. 2005 had four Category 5 hurricanes; Emily, Katrina, Rita, and Wilma. This is going to be a very long night for the people of Dominica. I cannot imagine what it is like to be under a Category 5 monster. Strong and howling winds and buildings getting destroyed.
The hurricane force winds is going to engulf most if not all of Dominica.
Hurricane force winds are up to 58 miles 93 km 50 nautical miles across from northwest to northeast quadrant. It is moving at 9 mph 14 km/h 7.8 knots, which means they will have to endure hurricane force winds for about 6 hours! That is a very prolonged, which increases chance for great carnage in Dominica. At that speed, Hurricane Maria will dump between 8 to 12 inches/20.3 to 30.5 centimeters of rain. Some areas could see as much as 20 inches/50.8 centimeters of rain.
The big question is where the Maria go after ravaging Dominica. This is the latest heat map from various forecast models and GFS ensemble track guidance for Maria. The GFS goes up to 10 days.
Once Maria passes Dominica, Maria may go over St. Kitts, Nevis, Montserrat, U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Those areas have been ravaged by Hurricane Irma. They do not need another monster hurricane ravaging them again. Some of the forecast models put it over Puerto Rico sometimes by this Wednesday. If Maria goes over Puerto Rico, it would be a very bad disaster for the island, which is mired in a financial crisis. That will make things much worse than it is. After Puerto Rico, most forecast models have Maria going northwestward. Some have it going to the Bahamas. At this point, Maria should not be a threat to the Gulf of Mexico. That can change of course. Not something we need after Harvey and Irma. The next question is how strong will Maria be.
Most forecast models show Maria weakening to Category 4 within 36 hours. Intensity forecast is notoriously difficult. It is possible Maria could be a Category 5 hurricane by the time it hits Puerto Rico. That will make things much worse as it is. Most forecast model a weakening trend as it turns northwest. The waters north of Puerto Rico are cooler due to Hurricane Irma.
Hurricane Irma became a Category 5 in warm waters, not the warmest. The warmest waters are in the Western Caribbean between Cuba, Central America, and Yucatan Peninsula. If Maria went over that water, it would probably be more intense than Wilma in 2005.
Another hurricane I am watching is Jose. It is off the Eastern Seaboard of America. Where it goes is rather complicated. This also complicates on where Hurricane Maria ultimately goes. This is the latest heat map from various forecast models and GFS ensemble track guidance for Jose. The GFS goes up to 10 days.
The forecast models are all over where Hurricane Jose goes. Looks like Jose is likely to linger over the Atlantic. Some have it going towards Florida or New Jersey. The heat map suggests this is a low confidence forecast. Since Jose is at a more northern latitude away from the tropics, it has gotten larger as energy is spread out more.
Hurricane force winds are up to 115 miles 184 km 100 nautical miles across from northwest to northeast quadrant. There is no hurricane force winds on the southern half of Jose. Tropical storm force winds are up to 449 miles 718 km 390 nautical miles from northeast to southeast quadrant. This a lop sided hurricane. Here is the most recent intensity forecast for Jose.
Most forecast models have Jose weakening into a tropical storm in the next five days. Jose will likely become extratropical in the several days. Hurricane Jose does not look like a hurricane from satellite.
Looks more like an extratropical storm than a hurricane to me.
Here is what I think will happen.
-Maria could pose a major threat to Puerto Rico.
-Jose is likely to linger over the Atlantic.
The forecast models came from NCAR-Tropical Cyclone Guidance, NOAA Tropical Cyclone Imagery – Storm Floaters, National Hurricane Center, Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential, and Meteo-France. Special thanks to all of them.