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Experts: Lingering Jose may help keep Hurricane Maria away

Jose, now a post-tropical storm, may influence Hurricane

Jose, now a post-tropical storm, may influence Hurricane Maria's path away from land as it moves up the East Coast, forecasters said on Sept. 22, 2017. Credit: NOAA

While post-tropical storm Jose is no longer a threat to Long Island, some forecasters are pointing to the system as playing a key role in influencing the path of Hurricane Maria, potentially contributing to a course away from land.

Jose is lingering off to the southeast, held just about stationary thanks to a ridge of high pressure.

By remaining in the area, Jose has created “a weakness in the ridge” through which Maria is expected to track next week, according to the Friday forecast discussion of the National Weather Service’s Upton office. That would lead Maria on a north then northeast track on Monday.

And, as the remnants of Jose hang around, “its counterclockwise winds will help push Maria to the east,” wrote Angela Fritz and Jason Samenow, weather editors/atmospheric scientists with the Washington Post.

Still, they say, “if Jose weakens very quickly, or if it doesn’t stall the way forecast models are suggesting, Hurricane Maria would have the opportunity to track closer to the East Coast midweek.”

Maria, which on Wednesday pummeled Puerto Rico, leaving the U.S. territory without power, was forecast to track just to the west of the Bahamas on Saturday morning.

By midweek, the storm will be closer to the East Coast and Bermuda, but it’s “too soon to determine what, if any, direct impacts there might be in these areas,” the National Hurricane Center said.

Dan Kottlowski, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather, is focused less on Jose and more on other dynamics.

Jose may have had “some influence but not that much,” he said, in the weakening of the high — causing it to back off a little to the east, allowing Maria to take a similar track to its own.

For him, a big question involves the timing of the weakening or breakdown of that high next week, which would ultimately pave the way for Maria to take a turn out to sea.

Later in the week, with some “abnormally cold air” plunging down over the western United States, a disturbance is anticipated to head east and ultimately help break down the high. That, in turn, would allow the westerlies to dip southward and, if the timing is right, “shove Maria out to sea,” Kottlowski said.

However, if the disturbance is slow in arriving, he said, Maria could be trapped by the high, with one possible result being its drifting closer to shore.

Another scenario he sees? Maria could actually find itself in Jose’s position: Stuck in place off the coast of Long Island.

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