Intense Tropical Cyclone “Batsirai” hits Madagascar, destroying entire villages


Tropical Cyclone "Batsirai" made landfall between Nosy-Varika and Mananjary on the east coast of Madagascar around 17:00 UTC on February 5, 2022. At the time of landfall, Batsiari was Category 3 hurricane equivalent on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale with minimum central pressure of 944 hPa.

While damage assessment is still in progress, Batsirai's destructive winds and heavy rain devastated the landfall area, destroying homes, causing power outages and leaving at least 6 people dead. However, officials fear the number will rise in the days ahead.

The village of Nosy-Varika was reported to be 95% destroyed. Other nearby villages appear to have suffered the same fate.

Tropical Cyclone "Batsirai" making landfall over Madagascar on February 5, 2022. Credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-11, RAMMB/CIRA, TW

"The winds are terrible. I've never experienced this. Mananjary has never experienced such a situation. The waves are very high," Hanitra Raharisoa, a resident of Mananjary, told Reuters by phone.1

Another resident who gave only one name, Raharijaona, told Reuters also by phone the storm had knocked out the area's power grid, felled trees and destroyed some homes.

At 12:00 UTC on February 6, Batsiari was an overland depression located approximately 437 km (272 miles) east of Europa Island.

Maximum 10-minute sustained winds are at 65 km/h (40 mph), with gusts up to 95 km/h (60 mph), while maximum 1-minute sustained winds are at 95 km/h (60 mph). The minimum central barometric pressure was 990 hPa and the system was moving southwest at 24 km/h (15 mph).

After exiting into the Mozambique Channel, Batsirai is expected to turn S and dissipate.

Batsirai is the second named storm of the 2021/22 Southwest Indian Ocean cyclone season and the second to move over the country within just 2 weeks. 

The passage of Tropical Cyclone "Ana" together with the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) caused prolonged heavy rains in the country last month, leaving at least 41 people dead and more than 64 000 affected. 

Ana was still a tropical depression when it moved over Madagascar on January 22, further exacerbating severe floods caused by ITCZ since January 17.

In the capital Antananarivo, this severe rainfall event dumped several months' worth of rain. January is the wettest month in the capital, with 340 mm (13.39 inches) of rain.

Ana made landfall over Mozambique on January 24, 2022, and continued moving west over Malawi while weakening and dissipating, but still dumping very heavy rain.

It's blamed for the deaths of at least 70 people in Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar.2 At one point, entire Malawi was without power.3


Tropical Cyclone "Batsiari" death toll rose to 111 by February 11 (The Watchers)


1 Cyclone Batsirai destroys homes and knocks out power in Madagascar – Reuters

2 Tropical Cyclone "Ana" leaves at least 70 people dead, Batsirai forms east of Madagascar – The Watchers

3 Most of Malawi without power after floods caused by Tropical Cyclone "Ana" – The Watchers

Featured image: Tropical Cyclone "Batsirai" making landfall over Madagascar on February 5, 2022. Credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-11, RAMMB/CIRA, TW


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