At 32 days, Tropical Cyclone Freddy has now become the longest-lived tropical storm ever recorded, with impacts that still haven’t quit as it makes another pass at Madagascar and Mozambique following its long journey across the entire Indian Ocean.
The storm’s winds measured 150 kilometers per hour at about 9:30 p.m. local time Tuesday, with gusts at sea up to 215 km/h. Météo France, reporting from Reunion Island, said the storm was again traveling slowly to the northwest at 7 km/h and moving away from the southern coast of Madagascar, where the Androy, Menabe and South Andrefana regions were impacted.
Madagascar’s National Bureau of Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC) said another eight people had died and one remained missing after the latest bout with Freddy, a storm that first arrived in late February with lingering heavy rains as it left for Mozambique. It then crossed back over the open waters of the Mozambique Channel to return to Madagascar, striking the city of Toliara and leaving another 14,500 people displaced by heavy rains.
The Météo France forecast puts an intensified Freddy back over Mozambique on Friday or early Saturday, likely in the Zambezi region, with agencies in Malawi and Zimbabwe also keeping a close eye on the forecast track. Authorities in Mozambique say nearly 166,600 people already have been affected by the storm’s impacts there.
Freddy first developed off the North Australian coast and became a named storm on February 6. The World Meteorological Office says at least 11 people have died in Madagascar and another 10 in Mozambique because of the storm.
An active cyclone season has been expected in Mozambique due to warmer than average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the channel, where SSTs are currently a very warm 29°C. Five to seven tropical storms and cyclones are expected between December 2022 and April 2023, according to the World Food Program, with up to four expected to be major cyclones of Category 3 or higher (a status that Freddy now is believed to have achieved twice).
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