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Could 2 hurricanes collide?

Two Tropical systems in the Phillipines courtesy Wikipedia
Two Tropical systems in the Phillipines courtesy Wikipedia

The most common question I’m getting about two systems in the Gulf next week: Could they collide with each other? And what would happen?

Well, certainly they could “collide” in the sense that they get close enough to each other so that the winds of the stronger one would tear the weaker one apart and absorb that energy so that they become an even stronger system with one single circulation. Right now, the forecast for TD14 and TS Laura does not suggest such a collision.

Could they spin around each other?

However, what if they were generally the same strength and one wasn’t strong enough to tear the other apart? This does happen and a binary collision can occur. What’s that? Even though they are both spinning, they begin to spin around a common center, or around each other. This Texas Two-Step is known as a Fujiwara (or Fujiwhara) effect. One of the more famous examples occurred in 2017 in the Pacific with Irwin and Hillary:

Fujiwara Effect
Fujiwara Effect

I’m not saying such a phenomenon couldn’t occur in the Gulf, but there is a lot of landmass there that the systems would have to get away from, so it’s highly unlikely. But it is 2020, right?

We have a ways to go to find out just how this scenario plays out. In the meantime, use this weekend to prepare for a tropical storm or hurricane on the Texas coast next week.

Please, stay weather aware!

Frank

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