Maria, Jose menace Tri-state and people with ties to NY in the Caribbean

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ROCKAWAY BEACH, Queens — Their names are strongly associated with holiness, and now, as the twin hurricanes of Maria and Jose churn in the warm Atlantic, the hope is that the storms will show grace both to the Tri-state region and to parts of the Caribbean with strong ties to the New York metropolitan area. In the case of Jose, that hope may be realized. In the case of Maria, however, it remains to be seen whether or not she might spare some already hard-hit islands from her wrath.

First, Jose, which was about 500 miles south-southeast of New York on Monday evening, and moving away from the New York shoreline. Despite that decreasing threat, the Category 1 hurricane was still churning up waters off the New Jersey and New York coastlines, as well as causing tides to be higher than usual. That, in turn, had a direct effect on area beaches.

"There was dune replenishment after Sandy," said Rockaway resident Alex Karinsky as he walked his dog along the boardwalk here, "but it's basically all gone,' washed away by storms, of which Jose has so far packed the strongest punch.

Karinsky was among many Rockaway residents whose experiences with Sandy showed them that any major storm, even if it's not bearing down at that moment, can have a strong effect. Jose is expected to bring rain to the Tri-state, as well as high winds, and potentially dangerous rip currents.

If those conditions cause flooding in coastal areas, Kathyrn Montalvo, who is physically disabled, said that she's nonetheless prepared to weather the storm indoors for a few days. "I've got shelves stocked up," the Rockaway resident told PIX11 News, "and I keep a pantry."

The flooding for which she's trying to prepare is already happening at some oceanside locations, where it's expected to worsen over the next couple of days. At Jones Beach, on Long Island, Jose pushed much more water inland, flooding the beach at high tide Monday morning and creating hazardous conditions.

"We are telling people to stay out of the water," said George Gorman, deputy regional director for state parks, at Jones Beach on Monday. "Rough surf will continue and actually get worse."

Meanwhile, Maria is headed right for the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is already stripped bare from Hurricane Irma last week, as well as for Puerto Rico.

Much of St. John and St. Thomas, in the U.S. Virgin Islands, are devastated -- virtually every home is damaged or destroyed and almost every tree their lush canopy was blown down or stripped bare by Irma's 180 mile per hour winds.

Now, Maria threatens with 140 mile per hour winds or stronger, as well as about two feet of rain, potentially. With much of the islands' forests now stripped bare, the possibility for flooding and mudslides is as much on the rise as the water itself.

Puerto Rico, which has been spared a Category 4 hurricane for eight decades, will mostly likely see one this week, if current tracking models hold true.

That raises concern among people in the New York metro region with family in Puerto Rico, where 400,000 people are still without electricity in the wake of Irma, even though that storm did not make a direct strike there.

"People in general need to be safe," Melissa Harris, a Lower East Side resident with relatives on the Caribbean island, told PIX11 News.

There's one other concern regarding the twin storms. Jose's position in the North Atlantic may have an effect on Maria's long-term path in the tropics. Depending on how the two storms interact, the entire Eastern seaboard could be affected.

"Maria comes up and combines with Jose, and then it sits around," said Karinsky, the longstanding Rockaways resident.

That's a possible result of what's called the Fujiwhara effect, in which two storms closely affect each other's activity. It's not clear if that will happen in this case.

What is clear is that both Maria and Jose will affect our region and will effect people with ties to the metro area. PIX11 News will continue close monitoring of the weather situations here and in the Caribbean.