What is the Fujiwhara Effect?

Yes, hurricanes can collide, become one


ORLANDO, Fla. – You may be familiar with hurricane season (June through November), but do you know about the Fujiwhara Effect?

It’s an unusual weather phenomenon that occurs when two hurricanes spinning in the same direction pass close enough to each other (about 900 miles) and begin an “intense dance” around their common center.

But what happens next? Well, there are three potential outcomes (see photos below, too):

  • Two storms that are relatively equal in their strength can gravitate closer to each other. Once that happens, they could “dance” around each other for a bit.
  • If one hurricane is a lot stronger than the other, the smaller one will orbit and eventually become absorbed. This could cause two smaller storms to evolve into one larger storm.
  • The third possibility would be that the storms pivot away from each other, sending them in different directions.

Has this happened before?

A recent occurrence of the Fujiwhara Effect was in 2005 when Wilma, a powerful and large hurricane, absorbed a smaller and weaker tropical storm named Alpha off the East Coast.