An Air Force Hurricane Hunter plane, the first so far into Jose, found the hurricane was much stronger than previously estimated, the National Hurricane Center reported, and its projected path now puts it on the doorstep of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In its 11 a.m. Friday update, the NHC reported determined the winds in Jose are at 130 knots, or almost 150 miles an hour.
“In the short term, Jose is in a fairly favorable environment,” the NHC update said. However, the NHC forecast still follows the model trend of steady weakening beyond 24 hours.
The aircraft data also indicated that the center of Jose is a little farther south than previously estimated. Because of that, the NHC track forecast has been shifted slightly south and west of the previous one.
Jose is still expected to turn northwest before reaching the Leeward Islands on Saturday, as the subtropical
ridge begins to retreat eastward. The projected track predicts the hurricane brushing by the British Virgin Islands and possibly having some imnpact on the USVI.
After that, forecasters said it is still unclear if Jose will begin to move east with an approaching mid-latitude mid-level trough, or if it will remain trapped in light steering flow.