Hurricane Jose: storm nearly ‘category five’ as it follows Irma’s destructive path

The system is nearing the eastern Caribbean islands of Barbuda and Anguilla, promising further devastation in the wake of the giant Irma

Hurricane Jose has weakened slightly, but remains a “dangerous category four hurricane” as it heads towards the eastern Caribbean islands ravage by Hurricane Irma.

Jose was about 160 miles (260km) 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 issued hurricane warnings for the eastern Caribbean islands of Sint Maarten, St Martin and St Barthelemy, and tropical storm warnings for Barbuda and Anguilla and Saba and St. Eustatius. A troprical storm watch is in effect for British Virgin Islands, St. Thomas and St. John and Antigua.

A map published by the US national hurricane centre showing the storms Irma, Jose and Katia in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico region. Photograph: USNHC

In the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Katia made landfall north of Tecolutla, Mexico early on Saturday. The storm has since been downgraded to a depression near the Sierra Madre mountains, but officials are warning of “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.”

Many of Irma’s victims have already fled their devastated islands on ferries and fishing boats for fear of Jose, which could punish some places all over again this weekend.

“I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to know that further damage is imminent,” said inspector Frankie Thomas of the Antigua and Barbuda police.

A house in Barbuda wrecked by Hurricane Irma. Photograph: Anika E. Kentish/AP

Authorities said about 90% of Barbuda, a coral island rising just 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, where Stevet Jeremiah was reunited with one son and made plans to bury another.

Jeremiah, who sells lobster and crab to tourists, was huddled in her wooden home on Barbuda this week with her partner and their two- and four-year-old boys as Irma ripped open their metal roof and sent the ocean surging into the house.

Her younger son, Carl Junior Francis, was swept away. Neighbors found his body after sunrise.

Melissa (@pearlywhitesdr)

If you didn’t respect Mother Nature before, ya better start now. #IrmaHurricane #JoseHurricane #3stormsatonce

September 9, 2017

“Two years old. He just turned two, the 17th, last month. Just turned two,” she repeated. Her first task, she said, would be to organize his funeral. “That’s all I can do. There is nothing else I can do.”

The dead included 11 on St Martin and St Barts, four in the US Virgin Islands, four in the British Virgin Islands and one each on Anguilla and Barbuda.

Laura Strickling, who lives with her husband Taylor on St Thomas, said they had huddled in a basement apartment along with another family as Irma storm raged for 12 hours.

“The noise was just deafening. It was so loud we thought the roof was gone,” she said, adding that she and the three other adults “were terrified but keeping it together for the babies”.

“We’re obviously worried by the thought of having to do it all again with Hurricane Jose. It’s not good,” she said.

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.

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