Tropical storms Marco, Laura head for the Gulf of Mexico, spark Fujiwhara effect scare

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News: Two tropical storms named Marco and Laura forming in the western Atlantic Ocean at nearly the same time are likely to impact the Gulf of Mexico sparking concerns of the rare Fujiwhara effect.

Facts:

  • Fujiwhara Effect: It occurs when two hurricanes spinning in the same direction pass close enough to each other and begin an intense dance around their common center.
  • Origin: It is named after Sakuhei Fujiwhara, a Japanese meteorologist who first described the effect in 1921.
  • What happens in the Fujiwhara Effect? According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA), one of three things happen when the storms come near each other.
    • If one hurricane is a lot stronger than the other, the smaller one will orbit it and eventually come crashing into its vortex to be absorbed.
    • If the two storms are close to the same size, they can gravitate toward each other until they reach a common point where they either merge or they spin each other around for a while before they spin off in different directions.
    • The third possibility is that the two systems come together to form a large storm instead of two smaller ones.