Hurricane Jose has “almost” reached category five strength, with top winds of 155 mph (250kmh) as it heads towards the eastern Caribbean islands ravaged by Hurricane Irma.
Jose was about 240 miles (390km) east-southeast of the northern Leeward Islands on Saturday morning and was forecast to hit the outlying Caribbean islands later in the day.
The US national hurricane centre said that “air force hurricane hunters find Jose even stronger … almost a category 5 hurricane”.
It issued hurricane warnings for the eastern Caribbean islands of Barbuda and Anguilla, Sint Maarten, St Martin and St Barthelemy. A hurricane watch was in effect for Antigua, while tropical storm watch was is in effect for Montserrat, St Kitts, and Nevis, British Virgin Islands, and St Thomas and St John.
In the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Katia made landfall north of Tecolutla, Mexico early on Saturday. Katia was still rated a category one hurricane with winds of 75 mph (120kmh).
Many of Irma’s victims have already fled their devastated islands on ferries and fishing boats for fear of Jose, which is currently ranked as a category four storm that could punish some places all over again this weekend.
Authorities said around 90% of Barbuda, a coral island rising a mere 125 feet (38 meters) above sea level, had been devastated by Irma. Its 1,400 inhabitants were ordered to evacuate on Friday to neighboring Antigua.
In Mexico, which is also dealing with its most powerful earthquake in a century, Katia was expected to weaken rapidly over the next day, the USNHC said. Category 1 is the NHC’s weakest hurricane designation while category 5 is the strongest. Storms of category 3 and above are defined as major hurricanes.
Veracruz state officials said in a statement that the storm could cause landslides and flooding, and urged people living below hills and slopes to be prepared to evacuate.
Luis Felipe Puente, head of Mexico’s national emergency services, said this week that Katia has “worrying characteristics” because it is very slow-moving and could dump a lot of rain on areas that have been saturated in recent weeks.
Source: The Guardian