Hurricane Jose pulled farther away from the Caribbean Sunday morning and is expected to weaken over the next few days, the National Hurricane Center said. In its 5 p.m. advisory, the NHC said the center of the storm was located about 400 miles northwest of the northern Leeward Islands — the easternmost in the chain of Caribbean Sea islands — and 285 miles east of Grand Turk Island. Jose has not had much movement through the early part of Sunday.
“This motion is expected to continue tonight with a slowing of forwarding speed on Monday,” the NHC said. “Jose will begin turning toward the northeast Monday night, followed by a more eastward motion on Tuesday. On the forecast track, Jose will remain well to the east of the Bahamas for the next couple of days.” The storm has been downgraded to a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph and was moving northwest at a speed of 16 mph.
In other news, About 6.4 million people in Florida were urged to evacuate in the days before Irma made landfall. About 30,000 people left the Florida Keys before Irma made landfall on Sunday, but an unspecified number refused to evacuate and opted to ride out the storm. Florida deputies rescued two people who attempted to brave out Hurricane Irma in their anchored boat on Sunday, entering treacherous waters as Irma was set to make landfall in minutes.
Martin County Sheriff’s Marine and Strike teams rescued the two people just off Jensen Beach, the Atlantic Coast north of Palm Beach, Sunday morning. It’s unclear why the pair were still out on their boat. It is unclear why the couple were on the boat.
Irma struck as a Category 4 but by late afternoon had weakened to a Category 2 with 110 mph (177 kph) winds that whipped Florida’s palm trees with drenching squalls. A storm surge of over 10 feet (3 meters) was recorded in the Keys, and forecasters warned some places on the mainland could get up to 15 feet of water. There were no immediate confirmed reports of any deaths in Florida, on top of the 24 people killed during Irma’s destructive trek across the Caribbean. Many streets were flooded in downtown Miami and other cities. Appliances and furniture were seen floating away in the low-lying Keys, though the full extent of Irma’s fury there was not clear.
An apparent tornado spun off by Irma destroyed six mobile homes in Palm Bay, hundreds of miles away along the state’s Atlantic coast. Flooding was reported along Interstate 4, which cuts across Florida’s midsection. In downtown Miami, two of the two dozen construction cranes looming over the skyline collapsed in the wind. No injuries were reported. City officials said it would have taken about two weeks to move the massive equipment. About 30,000 people heeded orders to leave the Keys as the storm closed in, but an untold number refused, in part because of too many storm-hardened residents, staying behind in the face of danger is a point of pride.
The storm brought memories of Hurricane Charley, which blew ashore near Fort Myers in 2004 with winds near 149 mph (240 kph). It caused $15 billion in damage and was blamed for as many as 35 deaths in the U.S.