Tropical Cyclone “Freddy” makes landfall over Madagascar, heading toward Mozambique
Tropical Cyclone “Freddy” made landfall over the northern Vatovavy-Fitovinany Region in central-eastern Madagascar on February 21, 2023, with maximum sustained winds of 165 km/h (102 mph).
- As the damage in Madagascar is still being assessed, Freddy has left the island and entered the Mozambique Channel. It is now gaining strength once again and is expected to hit Mozambique on February 24 as a severe tropical storm.
Early on February 22, Madagascar’s National Office for Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC) reported 4 fatalities and 16 600 affected people in four regions — Vatovavy, Fitovinany, Atsimo Atsinanana, and Amoron’I Mania. More than 2 250 houses were flooded.1
As of February 22, at least 1 person died in Mauritius and 500 families were evacuated. Around 25 000 power outages were also reported at the peak of the event across La Reunion while 80 people were hosted in emergency shelters.
At 06:00 UTC today, the center of Freddy was located in the northern Atsimo-Andrefana Region of southwestern Madagascar. It had maximum sustained winds of 63 km/h and was heading WSW at 30 km/h (18 mph).
The cyclone exited into the Mozambique Channel around 12:00 UTC.
“Once [Freddy is] in the channel, the subtropical ridge strengthens towards the west and will steer the system westward then west-northwestward until landfall over the Mozambique coast on Friday morning,” forecasters at the RSMC La Reunion said at 06:00 UTC today.2
Model dispersion has decreased, making the landfall area probably between Inhambane and Beira, they added.
Over the weekend, under the effect of a trough passing to the south and contradictory steering from two residual ridges to the east and west, the system will almost stall overland before slightly drifting northwards as the subtropical ridge rebuilds to its southwest.
After classic weakening over the Malagasy lands, the central core of Freddy should gradually build up again before re-intensification over the Mozambique Channel in quite conducive environmental conditions: good oceanic potential, moist atmospheric environment, and low wind shear. It could thus quickly reach tropical storm stage again just after exiting into the channel.
Most models suggest more or less quick re-intensification, which can depend on how fast the system’s inner core rebuilds and on its size. There is still some uncertainty about the system’s maximum intensity before landfall.
The present RSMC forecast follows a median option with intensification up to severe tropical storm stage before landfall. The system should then weaken significantly inland from Friday onwards.
Impacts on inhabited lands during the next 72 hours
- Additional rainfall totals near 100 mm (3.9 inches) over the west-central part of the country.
- Landfall is expected early Friday morning, February 24, probably between Beira and Inhambane.
- Likely arrival of gales in the night from Thursday to Friday.
- Very rough to heavy seas (up to 6 – 8 m; 20 – 26 feet) near the landfall area on Thursday night and Friday morning.
- Intense rainfall rapidly spreading inland with accumulations locally exceeding 300 mm (12 inches) in 72 hours.
1 Tropical Cyclone “Freddy” – DG ECHO – February 22, 2023
2 RSMC / Tropical Cyclone Center La Reunion – Tropical Cyclone Forecast Warning (South-West Indian Ocean) 32/7/20222023. Intense Tropical Cyclone 7 (Freddy) – 06:00 UTC on February 22, 2023
Featured image: Tropical Cyclone “Freddy” at 20:00 UTC on February 21, 2023. Credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers
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