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Name: Ben
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Question:
What will happen if two tornadoes 'meet' each other? Will they cancel each other out if they are rotating in opposite directions, and merge if they are rotating the same way? What are the chances of two hurricanes forming over the same body of water at the same time?


Replies:
Ben,

It is rare that two tornadoes will meet, although such incidences have been reported. Two tornadoes may be so close to each other that they appear to be one amidst the swirling clouds of debris, soil, and water or result in a wide tornado path such that individual paths of the two tornadoes cannot be easily distinguished. The combination of two tornadoes was reported for the Caruthersville, Missouri tornado of early April 2006, for instance. A photo of two tornadoes spawned by the same storm is seen part way down the page at

http://www.hubbard.lib.oh.us/tornado/tornado_faqs.htm

Individual vortices (sometimes three or more) can and do occur within very large tornado circulations, in what is called a multiple vortex tornado. One of these is shown in a photo near the bottom of the web page mentioned above.

David R. Cook
Meteorologist
Climate Research Section
Environmental Science Division
Argonne National Laboratory


A tornado and a hurricane are quite different storms. Tornados are smaller, more intense in terms of wind speed, and less predictable. The air flow is very unpredictable, and in fact there is evidence that there can be tornados inside tornados ("Storm Warning" by Nancy Mathis). Storms that spawn tornados sometimes merge to form "super-cells" that become even more destructive. The landscape and air dynamics in the south central UP.SO. make it the world's most susceptible area for tornados (tornado alley).

Hurricanes are large and usually begin and grow over warm ocean water. Hurricanes have been known to merge to form "super storms" ("The Perfect Storm") describes the merging of three storms in the north Atlantic that resulted in one of the most destructive storm on record. Hurricanes can often spawn tornados, but the atmospheric dynamics that produce hurricanes is very different than the dynamics that produce tornados.

Vince Calder


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