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Preliminary Report
Hurricane Jose
17 - 25 October 1999

Richard J. Pasch
National Hurricane Center
22 November 1999

Tropical Storm Arlene
Tropical Depression Two
Hurricane Bret
Hurricane Cindy
Hurricane Dennis
Tropical Storm Emily
Tropical Depression Seven
Hurricane Floyd
Hurricane Gert
Tropical Storm Harvey
Tropical Depression Eleven
Tropical Depression Twelve
Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Jose
Tropical Storm Katrina
Hurricane Lenny

[1999 Atlantic Hurricane Season]

This hurricane originated from a tropical wave that moved off the west coast of Africa on 8 October. The wave moved slowly westward across the tropical Atlantic for several days. By 15 October, when the system was located about midway between Africa and the Lesser Antilles, its associated shower activity became better organized. The initial satellite classifications, a T1.0 on the Dvorak scale, were done at 1200 UTC 17 October. The disturbance developed into a tropical depression by 1800 UTC that same day, while located about 700 miles east of the southern Windward Islands. There was well-defined upper-tropospheric outflow over the depression. Moving west-northwestward, the depression strengthened into Tropical Storm Jose on the 18th while centered about 400 miles east of the Windward Islands.

Initially, it appeared that a large mid-tropospheric high over the southwestern north Atlantic would steer the tropical cyclone on a westward to west-northwestward track for several days. However, a mid- to upper-tropospheric trough produced a weakness in the ridge in the vicinity of Puerto Rico. This imparted a more northward component to Jose's motion. After turning toward the northwest, Jose became a hurricane late on the 19th while centered about 150 miles east of the Leeward Islands. As it neared these islands, Jose reached its peak intensity of 85 knots at 1200 UTC 20 October. Turning back to a west-northwest heading, Hurricane Jose struck the northern Leeward Islands, passing over Antigua around midday on the 20th. The eye then moved near St. Barthelemy and St. Martin from 0000 to 0300 UTC on the 21st.

As Jose moved over the northern Leeward Islands, southwesterly vertical shear adversely impacted the tropical cyclone's intensity. Jose weakened to a tropical storm by the time it reached Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, around 1100 UTC on the 21st. A little later on the 21st, the cyclone turned back toward the northwest, as the center passed about 50 miles northeast of the eastern tip of Puerto Rico. With a large mid- to upper-tropospheric trough positioned over the western North Atlantic, recurvature was now imminent. Jose turned northward, then north-northeastward on the 22nd. The storm continued north-northeastward at a faster forward speed on the 23rd, its structure still disrupted by southwesterly shear. Early on the 24th, however, microwave data indicated that the low-level center was becoming more involved with the deep convection. Satellite intensity estimates indicate that Jose regained hurricane strength by 1200 UTC 24 October. The hurricane passed about 300 miles east of Bermuda around midday on the 24th, and the forward speed increased markedly. The rejuvenation of the tropical cyclone was short-lived. Jose weakened back to a tropical storm around 0000 UTC 25 October. It continued to accelerate into the North Atlantic, losing tropical characteristics by 1200 UTC on the 25th. Later that day, the system merged with a larger mid-latitude low and associated front.

b. Meteorological Statistics

Table 1 lists the best track positions and intensities of Jose at six-hourly intervals. Figure 1 is a display of this track.

Figure 2 and Figure 3 depict the curves of minimum central sea-level pressure and maximum one-minute average "surface" (10 meters above ground level) wind speed, respectively, as a function of time. Also plotted are the observations on which the curves are based, consisting of aircraft reconnaissance and dropsonde data from the U.S. Air Force Reserves (the Hurricane Hunters) and NOAA, surface synoptic data, as well as Dvorak-technique estimates from the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB), the Satellite Analysis Branch (SAB), and the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) using satellite imagery. In Figure 2, the aircraft flight level wind measurements have been adjusted for elevation (90% of 700 mb wind speeds, 80% of 850 mb speeds, and 85% of 1500 ft speeds), and dropsonde wind measurements above the surface are adjusted to the 10 meter level using a mean hurricane eyewall profile determined by previous dropsonde measurements.

Jose's peak intensity of 85 knots is based on: 1) 10 meter winds of that speed measured by a Global Positioning System dropsonde, and 2) 90% of 700 mb flight level winds of 92 knots.

Table 2 lists selected surface observations for Jose. The highest measured wind speed from a surface reporting station was 70 knots with a gust to 89 knots at Antigua. Sustained winds of hurricane force (65 knots) were also measured at St. Maarten. The highest wind measurement from the Virgin Islands was 52 knots (sustained) with a gust to 60 knots at St. John. Higher wind speeds likely occurred over portions of the British Virgin Islands. In Puerto Rico, winds were mostly below tropical storm force, however there was an unofficial measurement (from a portable anemometer) of sustained winds of 30 to 39 knots with a gust to 48 knots from Costa Azul Beach in Luquillo.

Very heavy rains fell well after the passage of the center over the northern Leeward Islands, in association with feeder bands well east or southeast of the center. Rainfall totals were as high as 12 to 15 inches over portions of the islands.

A ship with call sign 9HII6, located at 31.6N 59.5W, reported winds of 130/85 knots on 24 October 1200 UTC. Further investigation of this observation revealed that the wind speed was erroneously reported to be about double its true value.

Storm surge observations are not available.

No tornadoes were reported in association with Jose.

c. Casualty and Damage Statistics

Two deaths are known to have been caused by Jose, one in Antigua and one in St. Maarten. Damage in Antigua was characterized as "minor". In St. Maarten, the heavy rains caused extensive flooding and mud slides which damaged roads and homes, especially in low-lying areas. United States (Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands) damage totals are minimal, and apparently did not exceed 5 million dollars.

d. Forecast and Warning Critique

Table 3 lists the average track errors for Jose for various forecast models and the official forecast. In the mean, the official forecasts were comparable to the most recent ten-year averages through 36 hours, but considerably worse at 48 and 72 hours. It can be seen that normally reliable models such as the GFDL and the UKMI also had quite large average errors at the latter two time periods. It should be noted that due to computer problems at the National Center for Environmental Prediction's (NCEP's) Central Operations, the GFDL model was run in a lower resolution (two-nested grids) than normal. These problems also caused some potentially valuable dropsonde data in the environment of Jose from the NOAA G-IV jet aircraft to be excluded from the NCEP global analysis.

In most cases, the official forecasts had a leftward bias. During the first couple of days of Jose's existence, the sharp recurvature to the north of Puerto Rico was not anticipated. In the latter part of Jose's lifetime, the official forecasts were generally too fast, taking the cyclone much too far north into the Atlantic.

Generally, the intensity of Jose was overpredicted in the official forecasts. Wind speed forecast errors were as large as 40 to 50 knots (too high) in 24 to 48 hours. It was not anticipated that southwesterly shearing would cause weakening. The SHIPS model also overpredicted the strength of Jose, although the errors tended to be a bit less than the official forecasts. It should be noted that, again due to computer problems, the SHIPS guidance was not available for about one third of the forecasts.

Table 4 lists the various watches and warning issued for Jose. Hurricane warnings were issued more than 24 hours in advance of the time of closest approach of the center to Antigua and St. Maarten, but only about 12 hours in advance for St. Barthelemy and St. Martin. Hurricane warnings for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico proved to be unneccessary, due to deficiencies in the track and intensity forecasts.

Figure 1. Best track, Hurricane Jose, 17-25 October, 1999

Figure 2. Best track maximum sustained wind speed curve for Hurricane Jose, showing all available intensity estimates and wind observations, adjusted for elevation (90% of 700 mb flight level wind speeds, 80% of 850 mb speeds, and 85% of 1500 ft speeds. Dropsonde wind speeds are adjusted to the surface using a mean eyewall profile determined by previous dropsonde measurements. MBL denotes mean boundary layer).

Figure 3. Best track minimum central pressure curve and central pressure observations or estimates for Hurricane Jose.

Table 1. Best track, Hurricane Jose, 17-25 October, 1999
Position Pressure
Wind Speed
Lat. (°N)Lon. (°W)
17 / 1800 9.8 50.81006 25tropical depression
18 / 000010.3 51.81005 30"
18 / 060010.9 52.81004 35tropical storm
18 / 120011.5 53.91003 40"
18 / 180012.2 55.11002 40"
19 / 000012.9 56.11000 45"
19 / 060013.5 57.1 994 55"
19 / 120014.1 58.1 994 60"
19 / 180014.9 58.9 992 65hurricane
20 / 000015.7 59.5 987 70"
20 / 060016.3 60.2 979 80"
20 / 120016.8 61.1 980 85"
20 / 180017.2 62.0 983 80"
21 / 000017.6 62.7 990 75"
21 / 060018.1 63.8 992 65"
21 / 120018.5 64.8 996 60tropical storm
21 / 180019.0 65.3 994 55"
22 / 000019.4 65.8 993 50"
22 / 060019.9 66.1 992 50"
22 / 120020.5 65.9 992 50"
22 / 180021.1 65.6 993 50"
23 / 000022.0 65.2 994 50"
23 / 060023.0 64.8 995 50"
23 / 120024.0 64.3 995 55"
23 / 180025.2 63.8 995 55"
24 / 000026.6 63.1 995 55"
24 / 060028.0 62.2 990 60"
24 / 120029.7 61.1 987 65hurricane
24 / 180032.2 59.8 987 65"
25 / 000034.9 58.1 990 60tropical storm
25 / 060037.9 55.8 994 55"
25 / 120040.0 51.8 996 50extratropical
25 / 1800 absorbed by larger extratropical low
20 / 120016.861.198085maximum intensity
20 / 060016.3 60.2 979 80minimum pressure
20 / 160017.161.7 98280landfall at Antigua
21 / 110518.464.699660landfall at Tortola

Table 2. Hurricane Jose, selected surface observations, October, 1999.
Maximum surface wind speed
Location Pressure
gust (kts)
(storm total)
Leeward Islands
Antigua982.020/1600708920/1523  7.64
Desirade   506520/0800   
St. Barthelemy996.021/0000547821/0000   
Sint Maarten (Juliana Airport)992.021/0214658721/0116  11.03
Sint Maarten (Point Blanche)       13.75
U.S. Virgin Islands
St. Croix ASOS999.7 273221/1255  1.05
St. John (NWS sensor F420C)  526021/1657   
St. Thomas ASOS       0.90
St. Thomas Mount Zion       2.93
St. Thomas National Park Svc       1.62
Puerto Rico
Aguas Buenas       5.43
Carolina (SJU) ASOS1001.721/1902202621/1005  1.30
Carolina       2.97
Ceiba (TJNR) ASOS1001.021/1854253221/1216  1.14
Cupey Rio Piedras       3.96
Gurabo Abajo       3.87
Hatillo       3.65
Jagueyes Abajo       3.69
Manati-Orocovis       2.42
Naranjito       3.47
Orocovis       4.19
Rio Fajardo       3.28
Rio Grande       4.15
Rio Grande near El Verde       4.34
Rio Icacos Naguabo       6.18
Rio Piedras       4.05

aASOS are 2-minute averages, Desirade and St. Barthelemy are 10-minute averages, all others are 1-minute averages.
bDate/time is for sustained wind when both sustained and gust are listed.
cStorm surge is water height above normal astronomical tide level.
dStorm tide is water height above National Geodetic Vertical Datum (1929 mean sea level).

Table 3. Preliminary forecast evaluation of Hurricane Jose, heterogeneous sample. (Errors in nautical miles for tropical storm and hurricane stages with number of forecasts in parenthesis).
Forecast Technique Period (hours)
CLIP53 (27)117 (25)186 (23)263 (21)391 (17)
GFDI44 (15)102 (14)215 (12)331 (11)578 (8)
GFDL*36 (13) 48 (12)104 (11)185 (10)426 (8)
LBAR37 (22) 51 (20) 71 (18)100 (16)183 (13)
AVNI52 (19) 93 (18)132 (17)197 (15)278 (9)
BAMD39 (27) 66 (25)109 (23)176 (21)397 (17)
BAMM48 (26) 80 (24)117 (22)156 (20)273 (17)
BAMS64 (26)111 (24)150 (22)178 (20)202 (16)
A98E43 (26) 85 (24)119 (22)149 (20)226 (16)
NGPI133 (10)198 (10)218 (10)216 (8)238 (8)
UKMI55 (24)106 (22)179 (20)282 (18)431 (14)
NHC OFFICIAL39 (27) 72 (25)139 (23)235 (21) 384 (17)
NHC OFFICIAL 1989-1998 10-year average 48 (2005) 89 (1790)128 (1595)164 (1410)242 (1107)

*GFDL output not available until after forecast issuance.

Table 4. Watch and warning summary, Hurricane Jose, October, 1999.
Action Location
18/0900Hurricane watch issuedBarbados
18/1200Tropical storm watch issuedTrinidad and Tobago
18/2100Hurricane watch issuedGrenadines, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, and Dominica
18/2100Tropical storm warning issuedBarbados
18/2100Tropical storm watch issuedGrenada
18/2100Tropical storm watch discontinuedTrinidad and Tobago
19/0000Hurricane watch issuedMartinique, Guadeloupe, Antigua, Barbuda, Montserrat, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Anguilla
19/0300Hurricane watch issuedSt. Eustatius, Saba, St. Maarten, St. Martin, and St. Barthelemy
19/0600Hurricane watch changed to tropical storm watchSt. Vincent and the Grenadines
19/0600Hurricane watch discontinuedBarbados
19/0900Hurricane warning issuedDominica, Martinique, and Guadeloupe
19/0900Tropical storm watch discontinuedGrenada
19/1500Hurricane warning issuedDominica, Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Eustatius, Saba, St. Maarten, and Anguilla
19/1500Hurricane watch issuedBritish and U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico
19/1500Tropical storm warning issuedSt. Lucia
19/1500Tropical storm watch discontinuedSt. Vincent and the Grenadines
19/2100Hurricane warning issuedBritish and U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico
19/2100Hurricane watch discontinuedSt. Lucia
20/0000Hurricane warning issuedGuadeloupe
20/0300Tropical storm warning discontinuedSt. Lucia and Barbados
20/1200Hurricane warning issuedDesirade, St. Martin, and St. Barthelemy
20/1200Hurricane warning discontinuedGuadeloupe
20/1500Hurricane warning discontinuedDominica
20/2100Hurricane warning discontinuedAntigua and Desirade
21/0900Hurricane warning changed to tropical storm warningU.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico
21/0900Hurricane warning discontinuedSt. Maarten, St. Eustatius, and Saba
21/1500Hurricane warning discontinuedMontserrat, Barbuda, Nevis, St. Kitts, Anguilla,St. Martin, and St. Barthelemy
21/1500Hurricane warning changed to tropical storm warningBritish Virgin Islands
21/2100Tropical storm warning discontinuedBritish and U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico


Last updated January 31, 2000