Could a hurricane ever sit on top of Florida like Dorian did the Bahamas?

Weak steering flow stalled Dorian, complicated forecasts


ORLANDO, Fla.- – This has been one of the most frequent questions into the Pinpoint Weather Center. Could a hurricane sit on top of Florida like Dorian did the Bahamas.

The short answer is yes, and it has.

When Dorian first developed, in fact, it looked like that could be the case. Many reliable computer forecasts had Dorian stalling over South Florida and the slowly riding up the East Coast. A week out from landfall in the Bahamas, it looked more and more likely it would stall over the islands before making its turn north. This part of the forecast was well advertised due to the weak steering currents in the atmosphere.


The part of the forecast that was more unclear was where Dorian would turn after it stalled. Since Dorian slowed so much for so long, high pressure was able to weaken more than anticipated, turning Dorian north before a direct hit to Central Florida.

Had Dorian not slowed down after it moved north of Puerto Rico, the area of high pressure over Bermuda would have pushed Dorian right into Florida before it escaped the high's grip and stalled. That would have put a slow moving or stationary hurricane over south or Central Florida.

In August and September, the jet stream rarely dips toward the Gulf of Mexico. The jet stream is responsible sometimes for steering tropical systems away and back out to sea. Most recently, Hurricane Harvey found itself trapped on the coast of Texas due to the lack anything to force it along. Hurricane Mitch in 1998 stalled over Central America for days. 

Most recently in Florida, hurricanes Jeanne and Frances stalled as they moved through the Sunshine State.

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