Seen from space, Hurricane Irma is a fearsome sight — a massive swirl of clouds barrelling across the ocean towards Florida. But the destructive storm is only one of three hurricanes currently churning in the Atlantic Basin.
Jose and Katia joined Irma as hurricanes on Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. The last time there were three active in the Atlantic was in 2010: with Hurricanes Igor, Julia and Karl. In an unlikely coincidence, these storms are almost in the same order and position as Irma, Jose and Katia, and have the same first three letters (I, J, K).
Eric Blake, a scientist with the National Hurricane Center, expressed his shockon Twitter: “Never seen anything like this in the modern record.” Though Hurricanes Igor, Julia and Karl did hit the Atlantic Basin seven years ago, Blakenotes that Igor’s path took it out of the Caribbean and up to Newfoundland.
Incredibly, all three of the active hurricanes could affect land at the same time on Saturday: Irma over the Bahamas (and approaching Florida), Jose over the northeastern Leewards, and Katia in Mexico.
Hurricane Katia is hovering in the southern Gulf of Mexico, threatening to hit the vulnerable Mexican coast. Katia was beginning to move Thursday afternoon toward the coast of Mexico. Forecasters say the Category 1 hurricane, with maximum sustained winds of 130 kph, could be near major hurricane strength at landfall.
A hurricane warning is out for the state of Veracruz. “Isolated maximum amounts of 25 inches (63 cm) are possible in northern Veracruz and eastern Hidalgo, Puebla, and San Luis Potosi,” the Hurricane Center warned. “This rainfall may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, especially in areas of mountainous terrain.”
A third hurricane, Jose, is growing far out in the Atlantic. On Friday morning, the National Hurricane Center recorded maximum sustained winds near 200kmh. The Category 3 storm is expected to pass near the northern Leeward Islands Saturday.
A hurricane watch was issued for Antigua and Barbuda, devastated by Irma on Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Category 5 Irma, which pummelled the Caribbean, is forecast to hit South Florida early Sunday morning, but its tropical force storm winds can arrive as early as Saturday morning. The National Hurricane Center says Hurricane Irma weakened a bit more but remains a powerful threat to Florida with winds recorded at 240 kmh. Storm surges could reach 3 metres in some places