For the first time in recorded history, two hurricanes may soon be swirling in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time, according to Colorado State University researcher Phil Klotzbach.
One tropical storm approaching South Florida and a tropical depression coming up from the Caribbean are both forecast to reach hurricane strength in the Gulf.
That means Louisiana could be in the path of two potential hurricanes that could make landfall within hours of each other.
This hurricane season has lived up to forecasts that called for above-normal activity. The Climate Prediction Center’s most recent estimate was for up to 25 named storms, which would require using the Greek alphabet. There are 21 names on the six-year rotating list of storm names. The names end with the letter W and exclude Q, U, X, Y and Z.
Klotzbach said there is no record of two hurricanes existing in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time, but there is precedent for two tropical cyclones — hurricane, storm or depression — to occupy the space together:
- The 1933 storms dubbed Treasure Coast and Cuba-Brownsville
- The 1959 storms Beulah and an unnamed system shared the Gulf of Mexico.
The latest: Tropical Storm Laura forms, threatens South Florida
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What is the Fujiwhara Effect?
According to the National Weather Service, a Fujiwhara Effect is:
When two hurricanes spinning in the same direction pass close enough to each other, they begin an intense dance around their common center. 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. Two storms closer in strength can gravitate towards each other until they reach a common point and merge, or merely spin each other around for a while before shooting off on their own paths. But often, the effect is additive when hurricanes come together — we usually end up with one massive storm instead of two smaller ones.