Tropical cyclone Freddy to become the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record as it continues its "dangerous journey" across Southeast Africa countries
A storm that traveled across the South Indian Ocean and has already slammed three Southeast Africa nations is heading back for round two – and is set to break a record in the process.
The World Meteorological Organization said on Tuesday that Tropical cyclone Freddy, which hit Madagascar, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in February, is lashing the region again. As of now, the storm "is on track to break the record as the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record," the organization said.
A 1994 storm known as Hurricane/Typhoon John currently holds that record. It lasted for 31 days. As of Wednesday, Tropical Cyclone Freddy is at the 30-day mark.
Freddy first formed off the coast of Australia at the beginning of February and then traveled more than 4,000 miles to Africa. At its strongest point during that journey, NOAA's National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service said the cyclone was "equivalent to a Category 5 Atlantic hurricane."
By the time it made landfall in the island nation of Madagascar on Feb. 21, the NOAA agency said it hit at about the equivalent of a Category 3 cyclone. When the storm hit Mozambique just three days later, it was a tropical storm, but the MWO said it lingered over that nation, as well as Zimbabwe, for several days.
That path alone broke a record for "all-time accumulated cyclone energy (ACE), a measure of the storm's strength over time, for the Southern Hemisphere, as well as globally, since Cyclone Ioke in 2006," NOAA said. it was also the first tropical cyclone in that hemisphere to have four "separate rounds of rapid intensification."
"No other tropical cyclones observed in this part of the world have taken such a path across the Indian Ocean in the past two decades," NOAA said. "In fact, it is one of only four systems that have crossed the southern Indian Ocean from east to west."
And by the time it completed that path, the storm was already responsible for the deaths of at least 21 people, according to the United Nations, and has displaced "thousands more."
But its path of destruction isn't over yet.
After leaving the mainland, the tropical cyclone "looped back towards the Mozambique Channel and picked up energy from the warm waters and moved towards the south-western coast of Madagascar," the WMO said. Throughout Wednesday, between nearly 4 and 8 inches of rain are expected to accumulate on Madagascar, only adding to the above-normal rainfall the island's gotten in the past week, which is already three times the monthly average, WMO said.
As of Tuesday's update, Freddy has started to leave Madagascar on a path back toward Mozambique, a journey in which the storm is only "expected to intensify," WMO said, and could potentially make another landfall as a tropical cyclone. Mozambique has already gotten more than 27.5 inches of rainfall this month, which according to WMO is above the annual average.
"Meteorologically, Freddy has been a remarkable storm," the WMO said on Tuesday. "...This kind of super zonal track is very rare."
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