As Hurricane Irma Hits the Caribbean, Two More Storms Take Shape in the Atlantic Basin

Hurricanes Katia, Irma, and Jose in the Atlantic Basin on September 7, 2017.

Hurricanes Katia, Irma, and Jose in the Atlantic Basin on September 7, 2017. NOAA

While Hurricane Irma moves through the Caribbean islands toward South Florida with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour, forecasters are warning that two other major named storms have formed in the Atlantic Basin — Hurricanes Katia and Jose. It is the first time since 2010 that three hurricanes have been active in the region at the same time.

As of Thursday morning, Hurricane Katia was hovering in the Gulf of Mexico not far from where Tropical Storm Harvey was two weeks ago. It is currently a Category 1 storm with winds of 80 mph. However, forecasters warn that it could be a Category 3 hurricane when it makes landfall in Mexico late Friday or early Saturday, fueled by the region’s above-average water temperatures.

Hurricane Jose is in the open Atlantic Ocean, behind Irma and following a similar track. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said it could strengthen into a Category 3 hurricane or more on Friday. Aid organizations are bracing for the storm’s impact as it heads toward communities already devastated by Irma.

Earlier this year, researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projected that the Atlantic Basin would likely experience “an above normal hurricane season” that “could be extremely active.” It estimated there would be 14 to 19 named storms during the 2017 hurricane season, with two to five becoming major events. The reason, they said, was warmer surface water temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean, which measured between 0.5 and 1 degree Celsius above average this summer. These warmer temperatures fuel storms, causing heavier rain, increasing their maximum wind speeds, and worsening storm surge.