When hurricanes collide

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The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is already off to a record-setting pace, and now we could have another hurricane record set in just a matter of days.

Two tropical systems could be in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time over the weekend and into early next week.

It’s extremely rare for this to happen.

According to NOAA records, this has only been done twice… June 18, 1959, and September 5, 1933.

For the 1933 event, two hurricanes were both headed toward the United States. One was called the 1933 Cuba-Brownsville Hurricane, which made landfall in Texas. The other was called the Treasure Coast Hurricane, which made landfall as a category 3 hurricane near Palm Beach. It crossed Florida and then went back out over water and entered the Gulf of Mexico as a significantly weaker storm system. The Treasure Coast Hurricane made landfall a second time in Cedar Key, Florida, as a tropical storm.

So in this event, you had two storms in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time. One was a hurricane. The other was downgraded to a tropical storm.

Then on June 18, 1959, two tropical storms were over the Gulf at the same time. These were Tropical Storm Beulah and a tropical storm that would become Hurricane Three. They were at opposite sides of the Gulf. One made landfall in Mexico, and the other made landfall near Tampa, Florida.

So here is what we know… it’s very likely that Tropical Storms Laura and Marco will both be in the Gulf at the same time. This will be the third time that TROPICAL STORMS have been in the Gulf at the same time.

If… however… these storms will be placed in the record books if they both become hurricanes. This would be the first time in recorded history dating back to 1851 where two hurricanes were in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time.

And this phenomenon has a name. It’s called the Fujiwhara effect.

If two cyclones pass within 900 miles of each other, they can start to orbit. If the two storms get within 190 miles of each other, they’ll collide or merge. This can turn two smaller storms into one giant one.

The close proximity can also throw a storm off course.

If one storm is stronger than the other, the smaller storm usually rotates around the larger one. But if both storms are similar in strength, they tend to orbit a common center between the two.

Regardless… this is extremely rare and will be a sight to see in just a few days.

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