A rare, ultimately fatal dance is expected to occur this week between two hurricanes in the eastern Pacific Ocean. This tango occurs when two storms get close enough for their circulations to interact, sending them pinwheeling around a fixed point between them somewhat like a meteorological version of a fidget spinner.
Hurricanes Hilary and Irwin will orbit around a fixed point during the middle of the week until one storm absorbs the other in a phenomenon known as the Fujiwhara effect.
What’s even more remarkable is that at virtually the same time as the two eastern Pacific storms are interacting an intensifying typhoon in the Northwest Pacific will also force another, weaker tropical weather system to twirl around its circulation, too.
As of Monday morning, Hurricane Hilary was intensifying about 340 miles south of Manzanillo, Mexico, and is forecast to become a major hurricane, which means it will attain at least Category 3 status based on its winds, on Tuesday.
Tropical Storm Irwin is not far ahead of it, located about 750 miles to the southwest of the southern tip of Baja, California. Irwin is expected to become a hurricane on Tuesday
Computer model projections show the two storms nearing each other and interacting beginning on Wednesday, when they will pinwheel around one another like figure skaters at the Olympics. In this case, Hilary will rotate counter-clockwise around Hurricane Irwin.
Unlike most figure skating pairs, however, hurricanes can be prone to cannibalism, and Irwin’s circulation will absorb Hurricane Hilary’s circulation by late in the week.
There’s something eerily familiar about a storm named “Hilary” that — after seemingly moving successfully and confidently in one direction — gets disrupted by the spin from another whirling system, eventually losing out to it.