An “unusual loop” in Hurricane Matthew’s trajectory means the storm could hit Florida and the Bahamas not once, but twice, before fizzling out, according to a meteorologist.
“While somewhat unusual, it is not unprecedented for Atlantic Basin tropical systems to move in a looping fashion at some point during their lifetime; especially, during the latter stages of the tropical season when weather systems can slow down due to atmospheric blocking patterns,” reads a blog post by Paul Dorian of Vencore Weather.
Matthew will begin to move eastward out to sea after hitting South Carolina in a looping move that will keep it from going further up the U.S. East Coast. But that looping motion “could actually result in a second hit to hit the Bahamas/Florida later next week,” Dorian wrote.
“Latest computer forecast models tend to agree on an eventual looping pattern for Matthew which will become influenced by a deep upper-level trough moving east from the middle of the country,” Dorian wrote.
“Another factor in the ultimate track of Matthew will be Tropical Storm Nicole which currently sits out over the central Atlantic,” Dorian wrote. “These two systems could dance around each other for a number of days and we may just be dealing with Matthew near the Southeast US coastline later next week.”
Matthew is currently a Category 3 storm barreling towards Florida’s eastern coast after pummeling Caribbean islands nations, like Haiti and Cuba. At least 11 people have been killed by the storm and thousands more have been forced from their homes.
Residents of South Carolina and Florida are bracing for impact since the storm is expected to make landfall in the U.S. Thursday night.
South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has urged more than 1 million people living in coastal areas to get at least 100 miles inland before the storm hits.
Florida residents have begun evacuating as well. Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott issued a dire warning to residents Wednesday to prepare for the storm.
“We cannot rule out a direct hit on Florida,” Scott said, issuing a state of emergency. “Again, we cannot rule out a direct hit.”
If Matthew maintains its strength and makes landfall in Florida, it will be the first major hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. in 11 years.
“Hurricane Matthew is currently headed northwest through the Bahama Island chain and towards the east-central coastal region of Florida,” Dorian wrote.
“It could make landfall there by early Friday and has a shot at ending the on-going streak in the US without a major hurricane (i.e., category 3, 4 or 5),” he wrote. “That unprecedented streak without a major hurricane strike in the US has persevered since October 2005 at which time Wilma came ashore in southwestern Florida.”
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