We can be a little Atlantic-centric here in the United States when it comes to hurricanes. However, they do happen in other parts of the world. We just call them typhoons and cyclones. They are just as devastating and jaw-dropping irrespective of terminology. Many of you reading this article may not know about Cyclone Freddy, but you should. It is breaking records and could end up being the longest-lived tropical cyclone in recorded history.
Freddy actually formed on February 6th, 2023 near Indonesia and made landfall in Madagascar on February 21st, 2023. While making landfall as a Category 3 storm in the region, on February 24th, the system was downgraded to a tropical storm but still produced between 1 to 2 feet of rainfall in Zimbabwe and Mozambique. This amount of rainfall is very problematic in countries that already exhibit extreme vulnerability from a socio-economic, infrastructure and health perspective.
Here’s the further problem. It regained intensity over the Mozambique Channel and impacted the region for a second time. According to Reuters, “More than 171,000 people were affected after the cyclone swept through southern Mozambique last month, killing 27 people in Mozambique and Madagascar.” The news agency is also reporting that over 500,000 people are at risk according to the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It is utterly stunning that in the second week of March, we are still talking about Freddy. Freddy, which has been persistently tracked by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, made landfall again this weekend in Mozambique.
Here are some of the records Cyclone Freddy has already (or may have) broken according to experts at Colorado State University’s Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA):
- Sustained strength over time in the Southern Hemisphere. It has surpassed the accumulated cyclone energy (ACE) for the an average North Atlantic season.
- Likely the longest-lasting tropical cyclone in recorded history (33 days)
- 5,000 miles traveled over the Indian Ocean
According to NASA’s Earth Observatory, “The longest-lived tropical cyclone in the southern hemisphere was Leon-Eline in 2000, which was sustained for 18.5 days and traveled a similar path to Freddy.” The World Meteorological Organization issued a press release saying that it is, “Setting up an expert committee to evaluate whether tropical cyclone Freddy has broken the record as the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record.” The previous record is Hurricane/Typhoon John (31 days, 1994).