It is very busy in the Atlantic Hurricane Basin today and the activity is expected to increase in the coming days, with numerous tropical cyclone threats in the basin. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has upgraded Tropical Depression #14 to Tropical Storm Lee; meanwhile Hurricane Jose continues to pose an east coast threat. A new disturbance to the east of the Lesser Antilles, hard hit recently by Hurricane Irma, is expected to become Hurricane Maria over time, prompting authorities to issue Tropical Storm Watches ahead of its arrival.
The NHC says Tropical Storm Watches may be issued for portions of the US East coast later today ahead of Hurricane Jose. The NHC forecast cone shows where the center of the storm is expected to travel over the next 5 days; however, Jose is a large system forecast to become even larger over time. Even if the center remains out over sea, it is possible tropical storm force winds will reach out to portions of North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts over time. Hurricane Jose is forecast to strengthen some today and tomorrow but is not expected to become anything stronger than a Category 2 hurricane over time; if anything, it is likely to transform into a non-tropical cyclone by the time it nears the southeastern New England coast.
The National Hurricane Center upgraded Tropical Depression #14 to Tropical Storm Lee, the next in a line of named tropical cyclones in the busy Atlantic Hurricane Season. Fortunately, the storm is forecast to weaken over time, possibly recurring out to sea and dissipating before it has the opportunity to bring harm to anyone.
Unfortunately, it appears a third system that is developing now could be a major threat to the Caribbean, and a major threat to the US East Coast in time. Known now simply as “Potential Tropical Cyclone #15”, the NHC says there’s a 90% chance that a tropical cyclone will form here within the next 48 hours. In fact, the NHC is calling for fairly rapid intensification of this system and expects it to reach hurricane strength by Tuesday morning. Once named, this system will be called Maria. Because of the likelihood of this storm forming, Tropical Storm Watches have already been issued for St. Lucia, Martinique, Gaudeloupe, and Dominica.
Global forecasting guidance, including the American GFS and European ECMWF models, suggest that Maria could be a significant east coast hurricane in about 7-10 days. While it is too soon to say with certainty how Maria will evolve with time, it is important that absolutely everyone on the US East Coast have a Hurricane Action Plan in order before these tropical threats arrive.
Experts believe this Atlantic Hurricane Season, which runs through to the end of November, will be a busy one. Dr. Phil Klotzbach and the experts at Colorado State University updated their seasonal outlook again on July 5, showing a much more active than normal season expected. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also released their own forecast which shows this hurricane season to be likely more active than others.