Could Hurricane Idalia loop back and hit Florida twice? Spaghetti models say it's possible

UPDATE: Wednesday morning's spaghetti models now all seem to agree that Hurricane Idalia, which made landfall near Keaton Beach, will continue moving out over the Atlantic.

Could Hurricane Idalia hit Florida twice?

Florida residents nervously watching the tracking models as the tropical cyclone approaches the west coast of the state have noticed that some of the spaghetti models for its future are starting to show a distinct curve to them, with a few even predicting a second strike on the east coast.

Not all the models agree, although as of Tuesday afternoon, nearly all of them show a downward curve after the storm leaves the Georgia/South Carolina coasts. Most have the storm dissipating in the Atlantic Ocean well away from shore.

Double trouble: Could Hurricane Idalia make a return trip to Florida? Another storm did.

Do Hurricane Idalia's spaghetti models say it could hit Florida twice?

A few models, notably NOAA's Global Forecast System (AVN0) and the NHC's Trajectory and Beta Model (TABS), suggest Idalia could come back and hit Florida's southeast coast by Port Saint Lucie sometime Monday. The Canadian Meteorological Centre's model has it striking near Hialeah.

"The GFS has been leading the charge on this taking a clockwise loop," meteorologist Josh Nagelberg of Perry Weather said of the National Weather Service's forecast system. "Several ensembles take it right (back) towards the Bahamas. (There) are some solutions that take this back into the eastern Gulf of Mexico, which is the last place we want to see anything at this point."

What does the National Hurricane Center say about Idalia hitting Florida twice?

As of Tuesday afternoon, the agency remains uncertain.

According to the latest discussion from the National Hurricane Center, "On days 3 through 5, there is significant uncertainty on whether Idalia will turn out to sea (as shown by the COAMPS-TC and HAFS models) or turn southward (as suggested by the global models).

"For now, the official forecast shows a slow motion at the end of the forecast period until the scenario becomes clearer."

Computer models for that far out are complex, however, and subject to change.

"Right now, given the time that it’s a week or so out, (our) confidence is pretty low," said Kole Fehling, with the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Melbourne.

Even more uncertain at this point, should it loop back, is where Idalia might eventually re-enter the Peninsula and how much steam it has as it moves west across the state toward Southwest Florida or further north.

If Idalia loops back, how strong would it be?

Idalia is expected to still be a tropical storm when it leaves the coast of Georgia or South Carolina on Thursday. But Hurricane Franklin might help keep it calm.

"They're showing that loop very close to where Franklin is now. The good news is, if you want to call it good news, is that Franklin is such a big storm, a strong Category 4, that it's cooling off the waters," Nagelberg said. But if Idalia holds together until it moves south into the above-normal hot ocean waters it could rebuild.

"It certainly does have a better chance of trying to make a comeback."

Have any hurricanes hit Florida twice before?

Loops are rare for tropical storms and hurricanes, but it's happened.

In 2004, Hurricane Ivan nipped the Panhandle when it made landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama as a major Category 3 hurricane. Ivan maintained hurricane strength through central Alabama and wreaked havoc through the southern U.S., spawning over 120 tornadoes before finally leaving the coast of Virginia as a remnant low. Ivan was responsible for the deaths of 64 people in the Caribbean and 25 in the U.S., including 14 in Florida, and an estimated $20.5 billion in damages.

Hurricane Ivan's path in 2004.
Hurricane Ivan's path in 2004.

But in the mid-Atlantic, the remains of Ivan merged with a frontal system over the Delmarva Peninsula, drifted south for several days, and crossed southern Florida as an extratropical cyclone before re-entering the Gulf of Mexico and regenerating into a tropical cyclone that moved into Louisiana and Texas.

That wasn't the first hurricane to hit us twice, even just in 2004, but the other one didn't involve a loop. Hurricane Frances crossed the state in early September from the southern end of Hutchinson Island and dumped rain across the peninsula until it left the state near Tampa. It then made a second landfall near St. Marks and brought wind and rain all the way up to the Canada-U.S. border.

2004 was a devastating hurricane season, with four hurricanes hitting Florida within six weeks. Hurricane Jeanne followed Ivan and while it didn't hit Florida twice — once was more than enough — it did do a complete 360-degree loop-the-loop in the Atlantic before strengthening into a Category 3 hurricane and making landfall just 2 miles from where Hurricane Frances struck three weeks earlier.

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Hurricane Idalia spaghetti model suggests second Florida strike