The Fujiwhara Effect

I’ve been getting this question a lot the last two weeks with all of the storms in the Atlantic Ocean.  The questions basically goes like this, “If two storms get too close together, will they form a super hurricane?”  The answer is no.

They will rotate around each other if both storms are of equal strength.  If one storm is stronger than the other, the weaker storm will continue to get weaker with the stronger storm having no effect.  It’s called the Fujiwhara Effect.  In 1921, Japanese meteorologist Sakuhi Fujiwhara was studying vortices in water and discovered that if two hurricanes get within 900 miles of each other, they will begin to rotate around each other. 

The most famous example is typhoons Ivan and Joan in the Pacific Ocean in 1997.  Ivan was steered to the west while Joan moved north.  Click image to see the video webcast we did on our morning show.


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