Storm ambles north off U.S. coast as Irma-like system eyes Florida Keys
Strike possible from N.C. to New England
As Hurricane Jose ambled northward in the Atlantic far off the East Coast, an innocuoussounding system known as “Tropical Depression 15” was stirring in the Caribbean Saturday and could well follow Irma’s destructive path toward Florida as Hurricane Maria.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, the National Hurricane Center upgraded the onetime disturbance to a tropical depression and said it was 695 miles east-southeast of the Lesser Antilles, moving west at 20 miles per hour. It had sustained winds of 35 mph.
Tropical storm watches were in effect for St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominica and Barbados.
The hurricane center said the depression was forecast to become a tropical storm within hours and could be near or at hurricane strength when it approaches the Leeward Islands Monday night or Tuesday.
Forecast maps show the storm moving on an Irma-like path over Puerto Rico on Wednesday and Hispaniola on Thursday morning heading straight toward the Florida Keys.
Hurricane Jose, meanwhile, was 480 miles south-southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., moving northwest at 9 mph with maximum sustained winds of 80 mph.
The center said “interests” from North Carolina to New England should monitor the storm’s progress and advised that tropical storm watches could be issued in the next day or two along the East Coast.
Elsewhere, Hurricane Norma moved closer to Mexico in the Pacific, while Tropical Storm Lee formed in the Atlantic far from land, heading west.
Norma is forecast to pass near the resort-studded southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula late Sunday and early Monday.
The NHC said Tropical Storm Lee had sustained winds of 40 mph and was about 655 miles west of the Cabo Verde islands. Little change in strength was forecast over the next couple of days.
An American flag waves Thursday where a home in the Sea Breeze Resort in Islamorada, Fla., used to stand before it was destroyed when Hurricane Irma brought high winds and flooding.