While Hurricane Irma barrels through the Caribbean towards the United States mainland, another two potentially powerful storms are waiting in the wings. Following closely behind Irma, one of the strongest hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic, are Tropical Storms Jose and Katia. The presence of these storms marks the first time since 2010 that three active hurricanes have formed in the Atlantic. In what may prove to be one of the most active on record, the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season has already demonstrated the unpredictable and explosive power of storms in the age of climate change.
Jose, like Irma, is known as a Cape Verde hurricane for its origins in the far eastern Atlantic, near the island nation of Cape Verde off the coast of Africa. However, it is unlikely that Jose will follow Irma’s path nor will it likely be as powerful. Jose is expected to spin towards the open ocean and become a Category 3 hurricane, though it is not expected to travel over any land area.
Katia is more closely related to Harvey, in that it too became a hurricane in the warm waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico. Despite its shared birthplace with the devastating hurricane that made landfall near Houston, Katia is expected to travel close to Mexico. It is currently nearly 200 miles northeast of Veracruz, Mexico, near which a small portion of the coast is currently under hurricane watch.
Although three hurricanes active in the Atlantic at the same time is unusual, it is neither unprecedented nor unrivaled. During the 1998 Atlantic hurricane season, four hurricanes, including Hurricane Georges which caused major damage in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, were active during the same period.