(This story was updated Saturday afternoon.)
1:45 p.m. update Saturday: Category 4 Hurricane Jose, packing winds of 145 mph, appeared to mostly miss the northeastern Lesser Antilles as well as the U.S. and British Virgin Islands as it swept northwestward Saturday. Hurricane and tropical advisories were dropped for the U.S. and British Virgin Islands as well as Antigua. While hurricane warnings remained in effect for Sint Maarten, St. Martin, and St. Barthelemy, it seemed these islands would just get brushed by the storm rather than a direct hit.
The storm is forecast to meander over the Atlantic Ocean for the next few days and will need to be watched later next week as some models suggest it could make a move toward the eastern U.S., although that is a low likelihood scenario.
11 p.m. update Friday: Hurricane Katia made landfall north of Tecolutla, Mexico according to the National Hurricane Center’s 11 p.m update Friday. The storm had weakened substantially prior to landfall, with peak winds of 75 mph down from 105 mph earlier Friday.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose had grown stronger, with maximum sustained winds up to 155 mph – nearly Category 5 intensity. Hurricane watches were upgraded to warnings for Antigua, Barbuda, Aguilla, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy. The center of this extremely dangerous storm could pass very close to these islands on Saturday.
Original post, updated Friday morning
Hurricane Irma is not the only show in town. Two other dangerous and strengthening hurricanes, Jose and Katia, were swirling in the Atlantic Ocean basin and forecast to affect land areas Friday night or Saturday.
Jose, following a similar path to Irma in the eastern Atlantic, has grown into an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane with 150 mph winds. On Saturday, it could strike or at least brush some of the same islands in the northern Lesser Antilles decimated by Irma Tuesday night and Wednesday.
Taking Irma and Jose together, this is the first time on record two storms in the tropical Atlantic Ocean have attained 150 mph winds at the same time.
Meanwhile, the peak winds of Hurricane Katia, centered over the southwest Gulf of Mexico, had reached 100 mph — making it a Category 2 hurricane. It is expected to make landfall along Mexico’s Gulf Coast Friday night.
“Atlantic currently has 3 Cat. 2+ hurricanes at same time — 2nd time on record this has occurred & first time since 1893,” tweeted Phil Klotzbach, hurricane expert from Colorado State University.
Jose has exceeded all expectations by explosively intensifying into a Category 4 storm — the third straight hurricane in 2017 to do so, following Harvey and Irma. This is the first time on record three straight storms have attained Category 4 or higher status, according to Klotzbach.
A hurricane watch was issued for Antigua, Barbuda, Aguilla, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy — many of the same islands devastated by Irma on Tuesday night and Wednesday.
If the storm tracks over these beleaguered islands, they could face destructive winds for the second time in four days and up to eight inches of rainfall.
The exact track of Jose is still somewhat in question, and there is a chance it could escape to the east of the already battered islands. But it’s too close to call.
After the storm passes the northern Leeward Islands, it will no longer be a threat to land areas, curling away from the United States.
Just as Jose was upgraded to a hurricane Wednesday afternoon, so was Katia. This system formed in the western Gulf of Mexico from a lingering disturbance earlier this week.
The storm is forecast to track westward toward Mexico and make landfall Friday night or Saturday morning.
Katia is forecast to strengthen up until landfall, with peak winds climbing to 105 miles per hour — which would make it a strong Category 2 hurricane, nearing major Category 3 status.
A hurricane warning is out from Cabo Rojo to Laguna Verde. While a 5- to 7-foot storm surge and damaging winds are likely close to where this hurricane makes landfall, torrential rains will affect a much larger area.
“Katia is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 10 to 15 inches over northern Veracruz, eastern Hidalgo, and Puebla,” the Hurricane Center said. “Isolated maximum amounts of 25 inches are possible in northern Veracruz, eastern Hidalgo, Puebla, and San Luis Potosi. This rainfall will likely cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides, especially in areas of mountainous terrain.”
Three hurricanes at the same time is highly unusual
Incredibly, all three of the active hurricanes in the Atlantic basin could affect land at the same time on Saturday: Irma over the Bahamas (and approaching Florida), Jose over the northeastern Leewards, and Katia in Mexico.
It is quite rare to have three simultaneous hurricanes. The last time this occurred was in 2010 with Hurricanes Igor, Julia and Karl. In an unlikely coincidence, these storms are almost in the same order and position as Irma, Jose and Katia, and have the same first three letters (I, J, K).