Jose's threat still blowing in the wind

NEW YORK • Do not underestimate Jose. The meteorological gods seem to be working against the hurricane as Irma's successor lumbers over the Atlantic Ocean. But it is so far out - more than 1,500km from New York - that it is too soon for the all-clear.

"If it is going to be a threat, it is probably a threat next week," said Mr Rob Carolan, a meteorologist in New Hampshire. For now, though, "Jose is having very serious issues".

Hurricanes cannot move under their own power, and the high-pressure system directing Jose on Tuesday was pushing and shoving it into making a loop around the central Atlantic, said Mr Jeff Masters, co-founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Mr Carolan said that could have the benefit of robbing Jose of muscle as it circles back over its own wake, churning up the cold water that saps the storm's strength. But the loop could easily turn Jose to point directly at North America, a manoeuvre that would put about US$18.8 trillion (S$25.3 trillion) in property from Maine to Florida in a potentially devastating shadow.

"That sort of behaviour is difficult to model," Mr Masters said.

It may be days before the forecasting image becomes clearer, thanks in part to Irma, said Mr Peter Sousounis, director of meteorology at AIR Worldwide, a risk modeller based in Boston.

Irma threw out what are called Rossby Waves, which can stretch for thousands of kilometres. They joggled the upper atmosphere and messed with the steering currents around Jose. Computer models have had Jose passing harmlessly out to sea - or crashing ashore anywhere from North Carolina to Nova Scotia.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 14, 2017, with the headline 'Jose's threat still blowing in the wind'. Print Edition | Subscribe