In what were perhaps the two biggest news stories of the past month, Hurricanes Irma and Harvey devastated the American south, disrupting local industry, destroying homes and critical infrastructure and dumping millions of gallons of raw sewage onto city streets - leading to the most destructive beginning to hurricane season in years. Meanwhile, cosmopolitan Yankees looked on in horror (with perhaps a touch of smugness) as they watched their southern neighbors being paddled out of flooded Texas homes by national guardsmen, or marooned in the seemingly endless lines of traffic snaking out of southern Florida, northeasterners now have their own storm to worry about.
And now, according to the National Weather Service, those same onlookers might be forced to endure similar hardships thanks to Hurricane Jose, already on its way to becoming a category one storm. Meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center say a wide stretch of the eastern and northeastern US, from Maryland up through Cape Cod, is within Jose's five-day “cone of uncertainty” - meaning that a fully fledged hurricane could make landfall in or around New York City, potentially dealing another crushing blow to the city's infrastructure after the city's subway system has not yet finished repairing the damage from Superstorm Sandy, which took place five years ago.
11AM Update on Jose: Much of our area is now in the 5 day cone of uncertainty. Be prepared for potential impacts Tuesday/Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/Qvy502vG8o
— NWS New York NY (@NWSNewYorkNY) September 15, 2017
Presently, the storm is headed northwest at 9 mph past North Carolina, and may bring one to two inches of rain to North Carolina’s Outer Banks on Monday, and heavier rains of two to four inches to Eastern Massachusetts beginning on Tuesday. The large waves from the storm could cause high surf and considerable beach erosion along the shores of the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts during this period, according to Weather Underground.
WU added that there’s an 18% chance of tropical storm-force winds in New York City between Tuesday and Wednesday, said Jeff Masters.
But NWS New York has wasted no time issuing a storm advisory for the northeast, urging east-coast residents to monitor the storm – though, while waves might impact coastal North Carolina, the full impact of the storm remains unclear.
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) September 15, 2017
The storm, currently about 360 miles (579 kilometers) northeast of the Bahamas, is expected to strengthen to a Category 1 hurricane in the next 48 hours as it moves through the Atlantic Ocean, Bloomberg reports. Jose’s path could put it near New Jersey and New York by Wednesday morning, though it may weaken to a tropical storm again by then, the NHC said.
As Bloomberg notes, the storm may add to an already devastating 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy caused $70 billion of damage after hitting the New York metropolitan region.
While Hurricane Harvey temporarily shuttered as much as 30% of the country’s oil-refining capacity, Jose’s impact on energy markets will likely be much more limit – though it could affect five refineries along the East Coast that are able to process about 1.1 million barrels a day of oil, and disrupt tankers carrying crude oil, petrochemicals and refined products along the Atlantic seaboard, “particularly those making deliveries to New York Harbor,” said Shunondo Basu, a Bloomberg New Energy Finance meteorologist and natural gas analyst in New York.
To be sure, some forecasters see Jose staying far enough offshore to avoid any major impact to the US. The NHC’s margin of error for a storm five days away is about 225 miles, on average, according to Bloomberg.
AccuWeather, which correctly forecast the magnitude of the damage that Texas would experience from Hurricane Harvey’s “one-in-a-thousand-year” floods, expects Jose to passing within 200 miles of the northeast - though a landfall in New England – possibly in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts - during the middle of the week can’t be ruled out, senior meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said in a statement.
Meteorologists should have a clearer picture of the storm’s path in relation to the US early next week.
Until them, concerned citizens might want to start stocking up on supplies now - just in case. Stores in south Florida started running out of water, gas and other essentials nearly a week before Irma made landfall.