MIAMI, (Reuters) – The U.S. East Coast is mopping up after Hurricane Irene’s weekend battering that killed around 40 people and authorities and residents are looking out anxiously over the Atlantic and asking: Is another one coming?
Tropical Storm Katia is jogging west at a brisk 18 miles per hour (30 km per hour) and the U.S. National Hurricane Center says it is expected to become a hurricane by late Wednesday or early Thursday.
But beyond predicting Katia will be a major hurricane northeast of the Caribbean’s northern Leeward Islands by Sunday, the Miami-based center says it is not possible now to predict its path with certainty, or say whether it will threaten the U.S. East Coast.
“It’s still well out to sea. A lot of things can happen … We don’t show it affecting any land areas for five days. Beyond that is merely speculation,” NHC senior hurricane specialist Richard Pasch told Reuters.
Nevertheless, he recommended that the U.S. East Coast and the Caribbean should “keep an eye” on Katia.
At 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), Katia was about 630 miles (1,010 km) west southwest of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands, still far out to the east in the Atlantic.
Some private forecasters were citing long-range models beyond five days, some of which show Katia swinging over Bermuda toward Canada and avoiding the U.S. coast. But Pasch cautioned such long-range predictions were unreliable and contained errors of “hundreds of miles” in the envisaged track.
can look at what the long range forecasts did with Irene, taking it across Miami, which of course didn’t happen,” he said, stressing that even the NHC’s five-day forecast “cone” had an average margin of error of about 250 miles (400 km).