The Fujiwhara Effect, What Happens When Two Hurricanes Collide

The Fujiwhara effect is the term used to describe what exactly happens when two hurricanes get near one another. The term was named in honor of Japanese meteorologist Sakuhei Fujiwhara who had first described the event in 1921. In Japan and most areas in Asia hurricanes are referred to as typhoons, and to see two collide is a rare sight, to say the least. In the recorded history of the United States, only two have happened and it appears that a third was just missed in the Gulf of Mexico. More from USAToday:

The effect is thought to occur when storms get about 900 miles apart.

Storms involved in the Fujiwhara effect are rotating around one another as if they had locked arms and were square dancing. Rather than each storm spinning about the other, they are actually moving about a central point between them, as if both were tied to the same post and each swung around it separately of the other.

A good way to picture this is to think of two ice skaters who skate quickly toward each other, nearly on a collision course, grab hands as they are about to pass and spin vigorously around in one big circle with their joined hands at the center.

Hurricanes are already devastating when they get big enough, the thought of an event like this is bone-chilling. It looks as if the United States will avoid the Fujiwhara effect when it comes to TD-13(Laura) and TD-14(Marco), as the two Tropical storms look to be veering away from each other.


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  1. Gerald S Ladd August 25, 2020