ORLANDO, Fla. – Hurricane Idalia made landfall as a major Category 3 hurricane along the Big Bend of Florida Wednesday morning. Before landfall, many longer-range forecast models suggested the storm would loop and make a return trip to Florida, this time on the Atlantic coast.
One of the top questions asked to the Pinpoint Weather Team leading up to Idalia’s eventual landfall in Florida was, “Will it do that?”
The steering currents aren’t well-defined as Idalia moves away from the U.S., so the storm may do weird things as it meanders between Bermuda and the states, but looping all the way back to Florida continues to be unlikely.
Most models now take Idalia near Bermuda. Still, a couple of models leave room for some shenanigans next week.
The official forecast from the National Hurricane Center now bends the storm away from Florida as well.
A loop-around is something that is possible and in fact has happened.
You may recall Hurricane Ivan did something similar in 2004.
This could happen if wind shear completely decouples the storm.
Tropical systems are made up of several different vertical levels, consisting of a low-level, mid-level and upper-level circulation.
In order for tropical systems to strengthen, these levels need to be perfectly stacked.
When wind shear, change of direction or speed with height is present, the storm can be ripped apart and the low-level center can be removed from the mid-level center.
The wind at different levels can send the low-level center and its taller thunderstorms in two different directions, based on the direction of the wind at those levels.
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