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Name: Bobbi A.
Status: educator
Age:  40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: Sunday, October 27, 2002


Question:
Have two hurricanes ever collided and formed a single, more powerful hurricane? Is it even possible or would wind shears cause the hurricanes to disintegrate?


Replies:
I believe the answer is yes, and a movie (and book??) entitled "The Perfect Storm" gives an account of such an happening. The storms became more powerful.

Vince Calder


Bobbi,

Very rarely one hurricane does come near to another. In 1995 Hurricane Iris merged with Tropical Storm Karen, so that they became one larger, although not more powerful, storm.

Normally it is more likely that one storm will disintegrate in favor of the other.

Something that happens more commonly is that a hurricane will merge with a cold front, either on the U.S. mainland or along the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean east of the United States. This tends to result in enhanced rainfall and thunderstorm activity, with the storm sliding northward along the leading edge of the front. This effect has produced some of the heaviest rainfalls seen along the east coast of the U.S.

David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory


Dear Bobbi-

Rarely do storms of this type "merge," and the result is a weaker rather than a more powerful storm. What happens is that when two storms approach such that one influences the other, the atmospheric circulations are disrupted such that the wind velocities are lessened. The resulting storm will probably be larger in area than either of the previous storms, and may intensify if conditions are favorable.

To use an analogy, these storms are similar to "magnets" of the same polarity...they tend to repel each other rather than attract. When they approach too close, usually one of them will weaken dramatically, due to the other one taking most of the energy necessary to sustain the hurricane force winds.

Wendell Bechtold, meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St. Louis, MO


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