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A cluster of tropical activities has developed across the Pacific Ocean as three characteristics fight for dominance and hold the potential for a phenomenon called the Fujiwhara effect to occur.
“Tropical activity has resumed in the eastern Pacific,” said Alex DaSilva, AccuWeather meteorologist.
The three main areas of interest are Tropical Rainstorm 9-E, Hurricane Hilda, and an area of low pressure to their east.
The good news is that all three features generally move away from Mexico and will pose no threat to land except for a slight increase in wave activity in western Mexico, according to DaSilva.
On Saturday evening local time, a tropical storm in the eastern Pacific Ocean strengthened to become Hurricane Hilda. Early Sunday morning, Hilda was a Category 1 hurricane on the Hurricane Saffir-Simpson wind scale, located about 860 miles southwest of the southern tip of Baja California. The hurricane was blowing sustained winds of 85 mph, moving west-northwest at 10 mph.
Hilda is gradually gaining strength, according to Adam Douty, AccuWeather’s senior meteorologist. However, as Hilda continues to move northwest, the storm will encounter drier air, stronger windshear, and cooler ocean water.
Hurricanes thrive in humid and warm environments, so each of them will work to degrade Hilda’s wind intensity, which could turn her back into a tropical storm. While Hilda is not expected to have any impact on the land, maritime interests should be aware of the rising seas due to the hurricane.
A tropical depression west of Hilda developed into Tropical Rainstorm 9-E early Sunday morning local time about 1,405 miles west-southwest of Baja California and remains nearly stationary.
“Due to the lack of organization and convection associated with 9-E, the system was classified as post-tropical,” Douty said. Although it was poorly organized on Sunday morning, there is a possibility that the rainstorm could revert to a tropical depression or even a tropical storm before moving into cooler waters. The next name on the list in the Pacific Basin would be Ignacio.
There is also an area of low pressure on the other side of Hilda, which is expected to turn into a Tropical Depression or even a Tropical Storm, battling Tropical Storm 9-E to be the next named storm.
“There appears to be a small window for tropical development until about Monday,” Douty said. Then it is possible for the low pressure to approach Hilda, which may inhibit the reinforcement or even lead to the weakening.
This area of low pressure is expected to interact with Hilda and could be “sucked in” by the hurricane next week, according to DaSilva. This would happen in a process called the Fujiwhara effect.
The Fujiwhara effect occurs when two tropical systems rotating in the same direction pass close enough to each other that they begin to “dance” around a common center, according to the National Weather Service. Often the two systems can come together and merge.
This phenomenon occurred earlier this year off the coast of Western Australia, when two systems, known as Seroja and Odette, interacted.
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“Seroja was the dominant feature, with the system officially known as Tropical Low Odette rotating clockwise around Seroja,” said Mary Gilbert, AccuWeather meteorologist, in April.
Seroja absorbed what was left of Odette in a Fujiwhara dance. However, such an event could occur in the eastern Pacific basin.
“While it is possible that there is a Fujiwhara interaction between the storms, I think it is too early to say that with much confidence that this specific type of interaction will occur,” Douty said.
Elsewhere, another developing storm could make waves in the Pacific later this week.
This satellite image, taken early Sunday morning local time, shows tropical rain storm 9-E, Hilda and the area of low pressure from left to right in the eastern Pacific. (RAMMB / CIRA)
“Models suggest another storm could develop in western Mexico this weekend or next weekend,” DaSilva said. This storm also has the potential to become a hurricane, although it is also expected to stay away from the coast, causing little to no impact in Mexico.
Meanwhile, Hilda or 9-E could lead to increased humidity in Hawaii between August 8-10, but the colder waters and wind shear mean the systems are expected to dissipate by that time, according to Douty.
While the East Pacific is buzzing with activity, the Atlantic Ocean remains calm, but not for long, according to DaSilva. The middle of the month, however, is shaping up to be a more active time for the Atlantic Basin, and the peak of the season doesn’t arrive until September, so there’s plenty of time for the tropics to warm up.
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