Hurricane, tropical storm may merge in Pacific

Hurricane, tropical storm may merge in Pacific
Posted at 11:37 AM, Jul 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 08:23:55-04

(RNN) - The eastern Pacific has gotten interesting. Hurricane Hilary is closing in on Tropical Storm Irwin. 

"One weather model simulation shows Hilary and Irwin merging, the Cyclone Salsa known as the #Fujiwhara effect," the NWS Spokane tweeted, showing a video model of what may happen when the two meet.

The Fujiwhara Effect is "a binary interaction where tropical cyclones within a certain distance (300-750 nautical miles depending on the sizes of the cyclones) of each other begin to rotate about a common midpoint," the National Weather Service explained.

The effect was named after Japanese meteorologist Dr. Sakuhei Fujiwhara, who described the phenomenon in 1921, the NOAA/Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory said.

Forecasts differ on what's really going to happen when the two meet, the National Hurricane Center said, but most said Hilary will absorb the weaker Irwin before degrading into a remnant low.

Whoever runs the National Weather Service Spokane twitter feed was inspired enough by the tropical shenanigans to write a limerick in its honor.

The systems pose no threat to land.

A recent example of a storm being absorbed by another storm happened in August 2014, in the eastern Pacific, when a weak Tropical Storm Karina interacted with "an unusually large" and strengthening tropical cyclone Lowell. 

Karina moved around Lowell and found favorable conditions to become a hurricane a second time before weakening and eventually being absorbed by a third storm, Hurricane Marie.

The Fujiwhara effect also came into play in October 2012, when Hurricane Sandy interacted with a winter storm coming off of the Eastern Seaboard, the Smithsonian said.

It was the interaction that pulled "Superstorm" Sandy ashore, causing massive flooding and damage along the East Coast, most notably in New York and New Jersey.

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