Preliminary Storm Report on Hurricane/Tropical Storm Jose
October 19-21 1999

 

 Jose 210015Z

 

 

Hurricane Jose spawned from a tropical wave which had its origin in Africa. This tropical wave was classified as Tropical Depression number 14 on Sunday evening October 17th at 5 pm AST when its winds reached 35 mph. At that time it was located around 10.0 north and 51.5 west, or about 590 miles southeast of Barbados. This classification was done based on satellite imagery and sea level pressure and wind reports of a nearby ship.


Historically, tropical storms and hurricanes are not as common this time of the year. Tropical cyclone climatology shows that a second peak in the hurricane season occurs within the first half of October, otherwise the occurrence and formation of tropical storms and hurricanes especially those forming in the vicinity or to the east southeast of the Windward Islands around the 10 degree north latitude is very uncommon. If we limit our analysis to the period from October 15 through the 31st, the historical data records show just two tropical storms formed south of 15 degrees north latitude, to the east of the Windward Islands. Hurricanes are even rarer with only one Category 1 hurricane developing east of the Lesser Antilles around 10 degrees north latitude during the October 15-31 period. With this background information we can then proceed with an evaluation of Hurricane Jose's eventual impact to the Northeast Caribbean.

As early as when it was named a tropical depression, the official projections from the National Hurricane Center were forecasting the depression to become a hurricane within 48 hours and to track across the Windward Islands, and in 72 hours to be positioned about 325 miles southeast of San Juan, P.R. or 235 miles south southeast of St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Even at this early stage, the 72 hours forecast position, represented somewhat of a threat to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. During Sunday evening satellite imagery showed that the system was becoming better organized, and by the 5 am AST on Monday October 18th, in less than 24 hours, Tropical Depression 14 strengthened to become the tenth tropical storm of the season, and it was named Tropical Storm Jose.

The National Hurricane Center advised all interests in the Lesser Antilles to closely monitor the progress of this developing system. By 2 pm AST on Monday October 18th Tropical Storm Jose strengthened to 45 mph, Its center was relocated to 12.2.N, about 2 degrees farther north than previously, based on the reports of the first reconnaissance aircraft investigation.

By 5 pm AST Monday October 18th, Tropical Storm Jose was located by reconnaissance aircraft near latitude 12.4N...longitude 55.6W or about 270 miles east of Barbados. The official projections from NHC still persisted with a west northwest track and for the system to make landfall as a category I hurricane over the U.S. Virgin Islands and Eastern Puerto Rico within 48-72 hours. At this time the tropical cyclone discussion from NHC indicated that hurricane watches for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico may be required Tuesday.

By 11 pm AST Monday October 18, Tropical Storm Jose was approaching the Lesser Antilles. Interests in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were advised to closely monitor the situation, since hurricane watches could be required on Tuesday. Jose's forecast motion was to continue west northwest, and the projection was for the storm to become a hurricane and its eye to track over St. Croix...Vieques and Eastern Puerto Rico within 48-72 hours. By 2 am AST Tuesday October 19th Jose was strengthening and its maximum sustained winds were near 55 mph.

By 5 am AST Tuesday Jose's winds had reached near 65 mph. The projected track was shifted slightly to the right with the center of the storm forecasted to be over St. Thomas within 36 hours or around 2 am AST Thursday October 21th, as a category II hurricane, with maximum sustained winds near 100 mph.

By 11 am AST on Tuesday October 19th, Tropical Storm Jose strengthened to become Hurricane Jose with winds near 75 mph, making it the seventh hurricane of the season. At this time it was about 200 miles east southeast of Dominica in the Lesser Antilles, about 475 miles southeast of St. Croix and about 575 miles southeast of San Juan, P.R. Its hurricane force winds extended up to 25 miles mainly northeast of the center, while tropical storm force winds extended outward mainly 115 miles to the northeast and east of the center. Its center was forecast to move directly over the U.S. Virgin Islands and northeastern Puerto Rico. Therefore a Hurricane Watch was issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The forecast trajectory of hurricane Jose would have taken its center over the U.S. Virgin Islands near 11 pm Wednesday night...over Vieques and Culebra around 4 am Thursday...and eastern Puerto Rico near sunrise Thursday.

Forecast Trajectory 11AM October 19

 

At that time this meant that St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands would begin experiencing tropical storm force winds around 3 pm AST Wednesday, St Thomas and St. John by 5 pm AST, Vieques and Culebra by 7 pm AST, and eastern Puerto Rico by 9 pm AST. The onset of hurricane force winds were expected for the U.S. Virgin Islands, Vieques and Culebra by Wednesday evening and eastern Puerto Rico shortly after midnight. All of the advisories from NHC and the hurricane local statements from the San Juan Nexrad Weather Forecast Office (NWSFO) emphasized that the hurricane was not a point, but a large area, and not to focus only on the track, because errors in the 36 to 48 hour projection could be large.

At 4 pm AST Tuesday, during the coordination call between NHC and NWSFO San Juan, the onset of tropical storm and hurricane force winds was discussed, and it was decided that a hurricane warning must be issued in the next advisory.

At 5 pm AST on Tuesday October 19th a hurricane warning was issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as Hurricane Jose was about 390 miles southeast of St. Croix and 490 miles southeast of San Juan at 15.1 N and 59.5 W. Jose was still forecast to move directly over the U.S. Virgin Islands with the eye center expected to track between Vieques and Culebra, in around 36 hours or by 2 am AST Thursday. The forecast track across the local area resembled Hurricane Hugo of 1989.

Hurricane Warning

The 5 pm projected track put the onset of tropical storm force winds for St. Croix around 3 pm Wednesday, St. Thomas and St. John around 5 pm Wednesday, and Vieques and Culebra around 7 pm Wednesday, Eastern Puerto Rico by 9 pm, and the entire island of Puerto Rico by 5 to 6 am Thursday morning. The arrival of hurricane force winds were expected for St. Croix around 9 pm Wednesday, 11 pm for St. Thomas and St. John, Vieques and Culebra by 1 am Thursday, Eastern Puerto Rico by 3 am, and the eastern one third of Puerto Rico by 6 am Thursday. The hurricane was expected to undergo further intensification, which meant that by the time the system was expected to be in our vicinity, the hurricane and tropical storm force winds radius were expected to be evenly distributed around the center of the cyclone, extending 40 miles all around for hurricane force winds, and 115 miles all around for tropical storm force winds. During Tuesday evening Jose followed a west-northwest and northwest track near 13 mph.

The 11 pm AST bulletins from NHC raised the winds to near 80 mph and the forecast track projection was shifted slightly to the right , this was something NHC recognized as a temporary track since the atmospheric conditions were to be favorable again for a movement back to the west northwest.

At 5 am AST Wednesday October 20th, Jose was nearing the Leeward Islands, with maximum winds of 90 mph, but this time the future track was adjusted significantly to the right, with the center of the hurricane forecast to pass to the east of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands around 2 am AST Thursday morning. Hurricane Jose reached the northern Leeward Islands as a Category 2 hurricane with winds near 100 mph. The center of Hurricane Jose moved very close to Antigua shortly around noon on Wednesday October 20th and by late afternoon when it was nearing St Maarten, a gust to 61 mph was reported there.

 

5 AM Oct 20, Satellite image of Jose nearing the Leeward Islands

At 8 pm sustained winds of 69 mph with gusts to 89 mph were reported at St Barthelemy and at 10 pm , St Maarten reported sustained winds of 51 mph with gusts to 70 mph. Hurricane Jose was disrupted some while crossing Antigua and the northern Leeward Islands but was forecast to reorganize as it passed out over the northeast Caribbean Sea. Hurricane Jose showed a very asymmetrical organization once it moved across the Northeast Caribbean due to the presence of southwesterly upper level winds that were shearing the storm. The strongest winds and the worst weather were over the northeast portion of the storm with a sharp gradient on the western half. The lowest central pressure reported by the reconnaissance flight was 977 mb or 28.85 inches when Hurricane Jose was moving northwest nearing the northern Leeward Islands Wednesday morning around 5 am. At this same time Jose was reaching its maximum intensity of winds near 100 mph. The maximum sustained winds remained at 100 mph although the pressure began to rise through the day on Wednesday. By 11 pm Wednesday night, the maximum winds were still 100 mph, but the pressure rose to 990 mb or 29.26 inches.

Asymmetrical organization as Jose moves over the Northeast Caribbean

Hurricane Jose began a weakening trend early Thursday morning as the pressure continued to rise to near 992 mb, up 11 mb in less than 24 hours, and the winds dropped to near 75 mph, minimal hurricane strength, by 5 am AST. Although the official forecast track was still very close to the U.S. Virgin Islands, since the radius of hurricane force winds along the southwest quadrant was limited, the Hurricane warning for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico was downgraded to a Tropical Storm Warning at 5 am AST Thursday. The poorly defined center of Hurricane Jose was at 18.4N and 64.7W, located very near St Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands at 8 am AST Thursday morning, but the maximum sustained winds were barely 75 mph and were confined to a small segment to the northeast of the center. At this time Jose was located at a distance of around 40 miles north of St. Croix, 40 miles east of Culebra, 45 miles east northeast of Vieques, about 65 miles east of Fajardo, and 95 miles east of San Juan. By 11am AST on Thursday October 21st , Hurricane Jose was downgraded to a Tropical Storm with maximum winds near 65 mph. St. John recorded sustained winds 60 mph with near hurricane force wind gusts of 69 mph shortly after midnight. The automated reporting station in St Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands recorded sustained winds of 44 mph with gusts to 52 mph shortly after noon on Thursday. As a tropical storm, Jose's closest point of approach to San Juan was around 55 miles at 2 pm and 5 pm respectively, around 20 miles north of Culebra, around 40 miles northeast of Vieques, and around 45 miles east northeast of Fajardo.

Satellite image of Jose at it's closest point of approach to San Juan

Strong southwesterly winds associated with an upper level trough over the western Caribbean were responsible for weakening the system as it passed through the Northeast Caribbean, close to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Jose moved slowly west northwest through the day on Thursday. By 5 pm AST the center of Tropical Storm Jose was about 55 miles north northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico. The maximum winds were 65 mph, but mainly to the northeast of the storm. At 5 pm AST on Thursday October 21st , the wind observations from the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were all less than tropical storm force and the tropical storm warning was discontinued.

Satellite image of Tropical Storm Jose on Thursday Oct 21

Throughout the history of Jose in the northeast Caribbean, most of the weather and the strongest winds were to the east and northeast of the storm. The U.S. Virgin Islands and northeastern Puerto Rico experienced sustained tropical storm force winds and intermittent periods of heavy rain as the rain bands spun around the storm. The strongest winds were felt across the northern U.S. Virgin Islands, Culebra, and Vieques. Around 4 am AST Thursday a wind gust of 69 mph, near hurricane force, was recorded at St. John. Tropical Storm Jose passed just northeast of our area in the early afternoon on Thursday October 21st with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph and remained north of the local islands through the day on Friday as it tracked off to the north northeast into the Central Atlantic.

Track of Jose

Track of Jose

Visible Image of Tropical Storm Jose Friday morning October 22

Friday morning October 22

 

Summarizing, Hurricane Jose moved over the Leeward Islands with maximum sustained winds of near 100 mph with higher gusts. When it was still a hurricane, its closest point of approach to the U.S. Virgin Islands was at 8 am AST Thursday, when it was very near St. Thomas and St. John. At this time the closest it was to St. Croix and Culebra was around 40 miles, to Vieques around 45 miles, to Fajardo around 65 miles, and to San Juan around 95 miles. As a tropical storm at 11 am AST Thursday its closest point of approach to St. Thomas was about 20 miles, around 60 miles from St. Croix, around 20 miles from Culebra, around 40 miles from Vieques, and around 45 miles from Fajardo. At 2 pm and 5 pm AST Thursday, Tropical Storm Jose was at the closest distance to San Juan of about 55 miles. Several satellite pictures and trajectory maps are attached.


Wind

Sustained tropical storm force winds were felt in the northern U.S. Virgin Islands, with tropical storm force wind gusts in St. Croix, Vieques, Culebra, and the eastern sections of Puerto Rico. Measurements taken from the doppler radar and the San Juan 7 am AST October 21 radiosonde, indicated winds of sustained tropical storm force between 40 to 45 mph at an altitude of 4 to 5 thousand ft. Based on this, the higher elevations of eastern Puerto Rico experienced sustained winds of tropical storm force. Winds normally accelerate due to local topographic features, and valleys and low lying areas along the eastern sections of Puerto Rico may have also experienced sustained winds and or gusts to tropical storm force. In fact, the Emergency Management Agency in Luquillo, measured sustained winds of around 40 to 45 mph with gusts to 55 mph around 655 am AST, Thursday October 21. These measurements were taken with a hand held anemometer along the immediate Luquillo coast at Costa Azul, which was shown on local TV channels.

The following tables summarize the maximum winds registered across the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico with the passage of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Jose.

Maximum Winds Official Reports

Location
Maximum Sustained Wind
Peak Wind

Carolina, Luis Munoz Marin International Airport
23 mph from the north northeast at 605 am AST Thu Oct. 21 30 mph from the north northeast at 605 am AST Thu Oct. 21
Ceiba, Roosevelt Roads Naval Base 29 mph from the north at 816 am AST Thu Oct. 21 37 mph from the north northeast at 816 am AST Thu Oct. 21
St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands CYRIL E. KING AIRPORT 44 mph from the southwest at 1130 am AST Thu Oct 21 52 mph from the southwest at 1129 am AST Thu Oct 21
St. Croix U.S. Virgin Islands Alexander Hamilton Airport 31 mph from the southwest at 855 am AST Thu Oct 21 37 mph from the southwest at 855 am AST Thu Oct 21
St. John U.S. Virgin Islands Community Health Center 60 mph at 1 am AST Thu Oct. 21 69 mph at 1 am AST Thu Oct. 21

Maximum Wind Unofficial Observations

Location
Maximum Sustained Wind
Peak Wind
St. Croix at Maria Hil 35 mph at 8 am AST Thu Oct 21 48 mph from the east at 901 pm AST Wed Oct. 20
Luquillo, P.R. 40-45 mph around 655 am AST Thu Oct. 21 55 mph around 655 am AST Thu Oct. 21 (Portable Anemometer)

Lowest Sea Level Pressure

Carolina, Luis Munoz Marin International Airport 1001.7 MB 302 pm AST Thu Oct. 21
Ceiba, Naval Base 1001.0 MB 254 pm AST Thu Oct. 21
St. Thomas Airport 997.6 MB 215 pm AST Thu Oct. 21
St. Croix Airport 1002.7 MB 459 am AST Thu Oct. 21
   

Rainfall

The rainfall associated with the passage of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Jose across the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico was received during the period from the afternoon of Tuesday October 19th through 8 pm AST Thursday October 21th.. The island of Puerto Rico was already saturated from the rainfall received during the first two weeks of October. The extreme outer bands from Hurricane Jose arrived at the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico waters as early as the mid afternoon of Tuesday October 19, when bands of scattered showers moved southwest across the area. The showers became more numerous through Tuesday evening, and were accompanied by isolated thunderstorms. These rain bands produced intermittent heavy rains, gusty winds and extended westward enough to affect the interior sections of Puerto Rico. These rain bands continued during Wednesday with wind gusts forecasted to reach 35 mph. By Wednesday evening thunderstorms became scattered over Culebra and Vieques, with the threat of heavy rains and gusty winds as they moved over eastern Puerto Rico. By early Thursday morning rain bands continued spiraling west southwest across the U.S. Virgin islands and the eastern half of Puerto Rico. By 750 am AST Thursday inner rain bands from Jose were covering many sections of Puerto Rico east of a line from Camuy south to Yauco. By 1030 am AST Thursday, a severe thunderstorm very close to the center of the storm generated an outflow boundary, something similar to a gust front, which traveled southwest at 35 mph. By Thursday afternoon the rain bands were moving towards the east northeast as the winds associated with Jose's circulation changed directions. A flash flood warning was issued for Naguabo during the early afternoon because river Rio Blanco overflowed its banks flooding Highway 31.

Some rainfall reports for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were as followed:

Rainfall period OCT 20 (00-24h) in inches OCT 21 (00-24h) in inches
Carolina, LMM Airport 0.71 .0.59
Ceiba, Navy Base 0.60 0.54
St. Thomas Airport 0.63 0.27
St Croix Airport 0.84 0.21

USGS GAGES Reports for Puerto Rico
(Rainfall period from 8am AST Oct 19 Thru 8 am AST Oct 22)

Location Rainfall (inches)
Gurabo Abajo Raingage 3.87
Jagueyes Abajo 3.69
Rio Fajardo 3.28
Rio Icacos Naguabo 6.18
Rio Grade near El Verde 4.34

Puerto Rico Ham Radio Rain Network (Unofficial)
Rainfall period from 6 pm AST Tuesday Oct. 19 thru 6 am Friday Oct. 22

Location Rainfall (inches)
Cupey, Rio Piedras 3.96
Hatillo 3.65
Caguas 3.32
Carolina 2.97
Rio Piedras 2.78
Rio Grande 4.15
Orocovis 4.19

ALERT Rainfall Stations
Rainfall period from 8 am AST Tuesday October 19 thru 8 am AST Oct. 22

Location Rainfall (inches)
Aguas Buenas 5.43
Rio Piedras 4.05
Naranjito 3.47
Manati-Orocovis 2.42

USGS Gages, U.S. Virgin Islands
Rainfall period from 8 am AST Oct. 19 thru 8 am AST Oct. 22

St.Thomas, Turpentine Run at Mount Zion 2.93
St. Thomas, National Park Service 1.62


Preliminary storm effects

Puerto Rico ...

River Rio blanco in Naguabo was reported out of its banks during Thursday afternoon due to rainfall amounts of around 3.70 inches during previous 24 hours. Landslides were reported in Utuado and Carolina. Rising water levels at the Carraizo and La Plata Reservoirs prompted the Water Authority to open the gates of both dams to avoid overflow. Heavy rains caused mudslides in the interior which prompted the closing of Highway 149 in Villalba.

In Culebra, wind gusts of around 50-55 mph temporarily knocked off electric power, uprooted trees, and bent street signs. About 70 people sought refuge in shelters.

In Vieques, 12 people sought refuge in shelters. Only one tree was uprooted, from the storm. Heavy seas were reported around the coastal waters beginning Wednesday night.

In eastern Puerto Rico, two people sought shelters. River Rio Grande de Fajardo was reported near bankfull. A wind gust knocked down one tree. Local newspapers indicated there were 515 people in shelters in 27 municipalities. A total of 40 shelters remained open.


U.S. Virgin Islands

In St. Croix several areas were without electric power off and on Wednesday night and Thursday. Tropical storm force winds caused waves as high as 8 feet along the beaches in Fredericksted on Thursday morning.

In St. Thomas, downed trees and broken tree limbs. Power and cable TV outages.

In. St. John, tree limbs broken, downed signs. 22 people went into shelters.


Comments

Hurricane Jose threatened the area at a time when most of the residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico usually expect the season to dwindle down, with the higher possibility of storms being concentrated along the Western Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico. Throughout its track across the Northeast Caribbean (map attached), Jose showed an erratic motion, nearing the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. We believe we were fortunate that the storm weakened as it approached the area , sparing the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico from what could have been the effects of a category II hurricane.

 


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