Deadly Cyclone Freddy becomes Earth’s longest-lived tropical storm


The storm originated in the Indian Ocean on February 6 and has been on a long, winding journey since, battering both Madagascar and Mozambique and causing at least 21 deaths.

Now, set to hit Mozambique for the second time, the storm has set a world record for tropical storm longevity, having formed and persisted for 31 days.

“At this time, it appears to be a new record holder for ‘longest-lasting’ recorded tropical cyclone … in a news release.

During its lifetime, Freddy has tracked more than 5,000 miles since developing between Western Australia and Indonesia and even attained Category 5 hurricane strength. It is currently crossing the Mozambique Channel for the third time.

Remarkably, the storm has rapidly intensified six times.

Rapid intensification describes an increase in winds of 35 mph or more over 24 hours. Research has found rapid increases in frequency in many ocean basins due to rising ocean temperatures associated with human-caused climate change.

Prior to Freddy, no hurricane in the Southern Hemisphere had intensified more than three times. In the Northern Hemisphere, only three hurricanes (Norman ’18, Emily ’05 and John ’94) appear to have made four rounds. Fast intensity.

Freddie is now going strong, rapidly coming out of his sixth phase of recovery. Just 24 hours earlier, it was a tropical storm with sustained winds of 65 mph. It is now the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 100 mph.

Forecasters call for continued strengthening with the potential for Category 3 intensity over the next 72 hours. In Mozambique, preparations are underway for the storm to return after first hitting there on 24 February. Ten people died, 8,000 were displaced, and 28,300 homes were destroyed. Over the past seven days, the storm has dumped up to 20 inches (500 millimetres) of rain in southern parts of the country, according to the WMO.

When it hits Mozambique a second time, Freddie will probably be stronger, though displaced somewhat to the north.

As of mid-morning eastern time on Tuesday, Freddy was located west of Toliara in southwestern Madagascar, where the storm was producing heavy rainfall. It had winds of 95 to 100 mph and was moving to the northwest at 6 mph.

On the satellite, Freddy had a pinhole eye about six miles wide that had recently emerged from a central dense cloud area.

At higher altitudes, counterclockwise-spinning high pressure is present, which pushes the jet stream south. This “exhaust” allows for air to exit above Freddy, especially radially outward to the north. The easier it is for air to “outflow” from a system, the more efficiently a storm can swallow warm, moist air that is in contact with ocean water below.

High-resolution weather models indicate that Freddie will continue northwest through the Mozambique Channel while intensifying. However by the end of the workweek, its further progress will slow down, and there are some models that indicate freddy stopped on the channel — or maybe even stumbling back east.

For now, though, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center is calling for Freddy to make landfall in Mozambique Friday night through Saturday morning with winds of more than 100 mph. The most likely place of landfall will be near the mouth of the Zambezi River.

Freddy has lived a historic life as a hurricane. It reached Category 5-equivalent status on February 18–19 with winds of 165 mph. While the WMO says it will probably set up a committee to verify the matter, it appears the storm has surpassed the 31-day life of the 1994 storm—Typhoon John, which traveled from the east to the western Pacific. , passing south of Hawaii, before turning north and dissipating south of the Aleutians.

Equally impressive is how much ACE, or accumulated cyclone energy, has been generated by Freddy. ACE is a product of wind speed and storm duration, and it attempts to determine how much energy the storm extracts from warm ocean water. Freddy has already set the Southern Hemisphere record, and may set a worldwide record.

“Freddie has surpassed several hurricanes for ACE, including Paca (1997), Ivan (2004) and John (1994),” wrote Philip Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University, in an email. “It currently ranks second behind Ioke (2006) for most ACEs for a single tropical cyclone since 1980. Prior to that time, the data in the Southern Hemisphere becomes virtually incomplete!”

Klotzbach said Freddy currently racks up 74.5 ACE units, and can store energy. Some experts say it may be less than IOK’s 85 ACE units, but some say Freddy There is a chance.

It’s important to note that, while Freddy has been listed on weather maps for over a month, it spent several days as a tropical depression—technically a tropical cyclone but close enough to warrant a name. is not strong. Once a named storm weakens into a depression, however, it retains its name in case it comes back to life – as was the case with Freddy.

No matter how you slice it, Freddy has been around for a long time and has certainly overstayed its welcome. Unfortunately, its destructive journey is not over.

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