|Very intense tropical cyclone (SWIO scale)|
|Category 5 tropical cyclone (SSHWS)|
|Formed||1 March 2004|
|Dissipated||18 March 2004|
|(Extratropical after 15 March)|
|Highest winds|| 10-minute sustained:230 km/h (145 mph)|
1-minute sustained:260 km/h (160 mph)
|Lowest pressure||895 hPa (mbar); 26.43 inHg |
(Record Low in South-West Indian Ocean)
|Fatalities||363 dead, 181 missing|
|Damage||$250 million (2004 USD)|
|Part of the 2003–04 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season|
Very Intense Tropical Cyclone Gafilo (French pronunciation: [ɡafil] ; also known as Cyclone Gafilo) was both the most intense tropical cyclone ever recorded in the South-West Indian Ocean and the most intense tropical cyclone worldwide in 2004. Being unusually large and intense, Gafilo was the deadliest and most destructive cyclone of the 2003–04 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season. According to the EM-DAT International Disaster Database, Gafilo killed at least 363 people. Gafilo also caused about $250 million (2004 USD) damages in Madagascar, which makes it one of most devastating storms to hit the country on reliable record.
Forming south of Diego Garcia, it intensified into a moderate tropical storm on 3 March. One day later, Gafilo became a tropical cyclone, and it ultimately intensified into a very intense tropical cyclone on 6 March, prior to making landfall over Madagascar early on the next day. After crossing the island, Gafilo emerged into the Mozambique Channel and made landfall over Madagascar again on 9 March. After a three-day loop overland, the system arrived at the Indian Ocean on 13 March, and it transitioned into a subtropical depression on 14 March. Gafilo then became extratropical on the next day and weakened, before dissipating on 18 March.
A disturbance formed south of Diego Garcia on 29 February, and Météo-France La Réunion (MFR) upgraded the identified system within the monsoon trough to a tropical disturbance on the next day. On 2 March, although the centre was exposed due to moderate easterly vertical wind shear, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) issued a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert on the system which was situated north of a subtropical ridge, based on improved organisation of deep convection and moderate poleward outflow.However, its temporary acceleration on that day lessened vertical wind shear. As the centre became under organised deep convection on 3 March, the system intensified into a tropical depression, then a moderate tropical storm named Gafilo by the Sub-regional Tropical Cyclone Advisory Centre in Mauritius, shortly before MFR even upgraded Gafilo to a severe tropical storm later. When the system slowed down and tracked west-northwestwards along the northern periphery of a building subtropical ridge, it reached category 1 strength on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale late on 3 March. The complete pattern of the cyclone from 4 to 8 March as it moved through the south western Indian Ocean has been recorded by the TRMM through its satellite imagery. TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission) is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.
Although dry air significantly reduced deep convection on 4 March, MFR upgraded Gafilo to a tropical cyclone due to a banding eye, when the system began to expand its clockwise circulation and track west-southwestwards. °C, the atypical third outflow channel from the west made conditions for the cyclone more favourable. Therefore, MFR upgraded Gafilo to a very intense tropical cyclone with a very well-defined circular and warm 20 nautical miles (37 km; 23 mi) diameter eye at 06Z, when it also reached category 5 strength on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale. At 12Z, Gafilo attained its peak intensity by the ten-minute maximum sustained winds reaching 125 knots (230 km/h, 145 mph) and the atmospheric pressure decreasing to 895 hPa (26.4 inHg), although microwave imagery showed that the eyewall replacement cycle had begun.By dual outflow channels, Gafilo underwent rapid deepening and reached category 4 strength on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale on 5 March, as MFR also upgraded Gafilo to an intense tropical cyclone late on the same day. On 6 March, besides warm sea surface temperature above 29
Shortly after slightly weakening due to land interaction, Gafilo made landfall in the vicinity of Antalaha, Madagascar early on 7 March. Unlike other storms, the overland depression just weakened gradually, because of its unusually large circulation making the outer part still at sea.On that day, Gafilo tracked more southwestwards along the northwestern periphery of a subtropical ridge located to the southeast. Before noon on 8 March, Gafilo arrived at the Mozambique Channel as a moderate tropical storm whose strongest winds were located in the northern sector. On 9 March, Gafilo became almost stationary and then tracked southeastwards along the western periphery of a subtropical ridge located to the east. MFR upgraded the system to a severe tropical storm supported by observed data from Malagasy stations at noon; however, JTWC analysed that the storm became below category 1 strength on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale at the same time in their best track data.
Late on 9 March, Gafilo made landfall north of Morombe, Madagascar, and the system started to make a three-day clockwise loop over the south part of Madagascar.For the system further weakened after landfall, JTWC analysed that Gafilo dissipated overland late on 11 March, as well as MFR issued a final warning on the overland depression which began to track southeastwards early on 12 March. Surprisingly, MFR began to issue warnings again on the completely disorganised system at noon on 12 March, as the residual centre was expected to go back overseas. Late on the same day, JTWC issued a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert on the overland remnants, because of improved deep convection over the low-level circulation centre, poleward outflow and weak vertical wind shear.
Early on 13 March, Gafilo arrived at the Indian Ocean as a tropical disturbance; JTWC cancelled a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert on the system because of the less organised low-level circulation centre and moderate vertical wind shear. °C to 29 °C. After attaining minor peak intensity in its subtropical period late on 14 March, Gafilo began to track eastward and transitioned into an extratropical depression on 15 March. Owing to a building subtropical ridge located to the southwest, the extratropical depression slowed down and turned northwestwards on 16 March. After slowly weakening, the system completely dissipated on 18 March.Gafilo transferred into a subtropical depression south of La Réunion on 14 March, when the deep convective activity was intensifying with better organisation of a small cluster above the low-level circulation centre due to good upper-level divergence and a warm sea surface temperature of 26
Gafilo caused strong winds and torrential rainfall over Madagascar. A half-day after the first landfall, hurricane-force winds were still observed near Mahajanga late on 7 March. When Gafilo was reorganising in the Mozambique Channel, 190 mm (7.5 in) of precipitation was recorded at Maintirano on 9 March, as well as 242 mm (9.5 in) was recorded at Tôlanaro on the same day. During its three-day loop overland, Gafilo brought 238 mm (9.4 in) at Morondava on 11 March.
As Elita had already struck Madagascar one month ago, damage from Gafilo created extreme devastation in the country. The National Rescue Council in Antananarivo reported 237 dead, 181 missing, 879 injured, and 304,000 homeless (174,000 in Antalaha alone). More than 20,000 homes were destroyed, as well as 413 public buildings and 3,400 schools were damaged, including 1,400 schools completely destroyed. The United Nations estimated that there were 700,000 disaster-stricken people, 280,000 of which needed urgent assistance.
Despite being located 300 km (190 mi) north of Gafilo's centre, the wreck of the ferry 'Samson' still happened on the night of 7 March, offshore the northwestern port of Mahajanga. A narrow but strong band of Gafilo caused very rough conditions at sea, causing the ferry to experience engine failure and capsize immediately after. While the number of fatalities remains undetermined, 120 people were officially on board, and only three people reached shore, surviving the shipwreck. The ferry had been heading to Madagascar from the Comoros Islands at the time of its sinking.
In Antalaha, food prices shot up by 35%, and the harbour was badly damaged and non-operational. Roads and bridges connecting the city to outlying villages were inaccessible, and electricity, water and telephone lines were cut.Overall in Madagascar, the main damage caused by Gafilo was the subsequent flooding of vast areas in the north, northwest and southwest; Where extensive, the flooding caused serious damage to vanilla, rice and banana crops. In many places, the crops were expected to be totally lost.
Moreover, shrimp harvesting also suffered. Some of the affected areas coincided with those affected by Elita, and stocks and resources were already depleted in many areas. In the absence of immediate response, an increase in water-borne diseases such as malaria and diarrhoea could have occurred immediately, while outbreaks of cholera were expected to be seen within the coming 6–8 weeks.
Damage was minimal to other islands in the South-west Indian Ocean, but precipitation was very heavy. Far from the centre of Gafilo, 393 mm (15.5 in) was recorded at La Réunion within 48 hours, and 159 mm (6.3 in) was recorded at the Seychelles on 4 March. At a point 160 km (99 mi) south of Gafilo, ten-minute maximum sustained winds were 49 knots with a peak gust of 66 knots recorded at Tromelin Island. During 7 and 8 March, precipitation at Mayotte was recorded between 100 and 275 mm (3.9 and 10.8 in).
Following the passage of Gafilo, the Malagasy government passed Inter-ministerial Order 17939/2004 in September 2004, which cleared the way for export of new and existing stocks of rosewood as 'salvage'. This created anarchy in the national parks in the Sava Region, with loggers extracting a large quantity of rosewood and ebony, grossly disproportionate to the amount of damage caused by the storm.During this time, Marojejy National Park reported that with the granting of export rights, logging in the park had resumed. It was not until 2006, with the passing of Inter-ministerial Order 16030/2006, that the export ban was reinstated, nearly two years after the storm, but not before the exporters lobbied the government for an extension 'following the grievances expressed by operators' in October 2005, per Memorandum 923/05. Exports were also authorized following cyclones in 2006 and 2007, encouraging the stockpiling of large quantities of lumber in both legal depots and hidden caches around the ports of Vohémar and Antalaha.
With ten-minute maximum sustained winds of 125 knots (230 km/h, 145 mph) (later equaled by Hellen in 2014 and Eunice in 2015, and surpassed by Fantala in 2016, with 10-min sustained winds of 135 knots (250 km/h, 155 mph)) and an atmospheric pressure of 895 hPa (26.4 inHg), Gafilo became the most intense tropical cyclone in the South-West Indian Ocean since reliable records began to be kept. In addition, Gafilo was the only tropical cyclone in the basin having an atmospheric pressure below 900 hPa (27 inHg) since Chris-Damia in 1982. Gafilo made landfall over Madagascar early on 7 March as a very intense tropical cyclone with ten-minute maximum sustained winds of 120 knots (220 km/h, 140 mph) and an atmospheric pressure of 905 hPa (26.7 inHg), becoming the strongest storm to make landfall over Madagascar, and even Africa, on record, tied with Hary for both of those records in 2002.
The 2007–08 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season was the third most active tropical cyclone season, along with the 1985–86 season and behind the 1993–94 season and the 2018–19 season, with twelve named tropical cyclones developing in the region. It began on November 15, 2007, and ended on April 30, 2008, with the exception for Mauritius and the Seychelles, which ended May 15. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the basin, which is west of 90°E and south of the Equator. Tropical cyclones in this basin are monitored by the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre in Réunion.
The 2006–07 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season was a slightly above average event in tropical cyclone formation which started on November 15, 2006 and ended on April 30, 2007 for most areas and on May 15, 2007 for Mauritius and the Seychelles. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the basin, which is west of 90°E and south of the Equator. Tropical cyclones in this basin are monitored by the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre in Réunion.
The 2004–05 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season was a near average season, despite beginning unusually early on August 30 with the formation of an early-season tropical depression. Météo-France's meteorological office in Réunion (MFR) ultimately monitored 18 tropical disturbances during the season, of which 15 became tropical depressions. Two storms – Arola and Bento – formed in November, and the latter became the most intense November cyclone on record. Bento attained its peak intensity at a low latitude, and weakened before threatening land. Tropical Cyclone Chambo was the only named storm in December. In January, Severe Tropical Storm Daren and Cyclone Ernest existed simultaneously. The latter storm struck southern Madagascar, and five days later, Moderate Tropical Storm Felapi affected the same area; the two storms killed 78 people and left over 32,000 people homeless. At the end of January, Severe Tropical Storm Gerard existed as an unnamed tropical storm for 18 hours due to discrepancies between warning centers.
The 2003–04 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season featured the most intense tropical cyclone in the South-West Indian Ocean, Cyclone Gafilo, as well as nine other named storms. Tropical activity began on September 28 when Moderate Tropical Storm Abaimba formed at a low latitude. Activity continued until late May, following Severe Tropical Storm Juba, which marked the third year in a row that a storm formed in May. The final disturbance, one of sixteen, dissipated on May 24. Activity was near average, and the season was one of the longest on record.
The 2002–03 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season was one of the longest lasting and the third-most active season in the South-West Indian Ocean. Storms during the season impacted the Mascarene Islands, Seychelles, Madagascar, and countries in southeastern Africa. The season began early when an unnamed tropical storm struck Seychelles in September, becoming the most damaging storm there in 50 years. The next system, Atang, was the first named storm of the season, but was only a tropical depression; it was named due to the threat to an outer island of Mauritius. Atang later struck Tanzania in a climatologically unusual area in November, resulting in unconfirmed deaths of fishermen. The first named storm to reach tropical storm intensity was Boura, which brushed the Mascarene Islands with gusty winds and rainfall. In December, Cyclone Crystal threatened to strike Mauritius but instead veered eastward, and later, Tropical Storm Delfina lasted from late December through early January 2003. Delfina damaged or destroyed thousands of houses in Mozambique and Malawi, killing 54 people.
Cyclone Elita was an unusual tropical cyclone that made landfall on Madagascar three times. The fifth named storm of the 2003–04 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season, Elita developed in the Mozambique Channel on January 24, 2004. It strengthened to tropical cyclone status before striking northwestern Madagascar on January 28; it was the first storm to strike western Madagascar at that intensity since Cyclone Cynthia in 1991. Elita weakened to tropical depression status while crossing the island, and after exiting into the southwest Indian Ocean, it turned to the west and moved ashore in eastern Madagascar on January 31. After once again crossing the island, the cyclone reached the Mozambique Channel and re-intensified. Elita turned to the southeast to make its final landfall on February 3 along southwestern Madagascar. Two days later, it underwent an extratropical transition; the remnant system moved erratically before dissipating on February 13.
The 2008–09 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season was a slightly above average event in tropical cyclone formation. It began on November 15, 2008, and officially ended on April 30, 2009, with the exception for Mauritius and the Seychelles, for which it ended on May 15, 2009. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical cyclones form in the basin, which is west of 90°E and south of the Equator. Tropical cyclones in this basin were monitored by the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre in Réunion.
Typhoon Jangmi, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Ofel, was the most intense tropical cyclone in the Northwest Pacific Ocean during the 2000s, tied with Nida in 2009. Jangmi, which means rose in Korean, developed into a tropical storm on September 24 and underwent rapid deepening on September 26–27. The typhoon significantly weakened on September 28, owing to crossing Taiwan.
The 1990–91 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season was fairly quiet, although activity began early and the final named storm formed at a record late date. There were seven named storms classified by the Météo-France office (MFR) on Réunion, as well as three depressions; an additional depression was classified by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC), an unofficial warning agency. The JTWC tracked storms in both September and October, although neither affected land. In late November, another short-lived depression formed in the northeastern portion of the basin. Activity remained minimal until January, when Tropical Storm Alison formed in the eastern portion of the basin. Later in the month, Cyclone Bella became the strongest storm of the season, reaching 10‑minute maximum sustained winds of 155 km/h (100 mph). It passed near the island of Rodrigues, becoming the worst cyclone there in 20 years and killing half of the population of one endangered species. Bella also likely caused a cargo ship to go missing with 36 people on board.
The 1991–92 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season was an average cyclone season in which most storms remained over open waters. At the time, the season lasted from November 15, 1991, to April 30, 1992, although this season began early when three tropical depressions formed before the official start. The second, designated Tropical Depression A2 by the Météo-France office (MFR) on Réunion, passed north of Madagascar on October 16 before weakening. The first named storm was Severe Tropical Storm Alexandra, which developed on December 18 from the monsoon trough; many other storms during the year originated in this manner. Tropical Storm Bryna was the only tropical storm of the season to make landfall, having struck northeastern Madagascar on January 2. The basin was most active in February, when five named storms developed, including Tropical Depression Elizabetha which struck western Madagascar. In early March, Cyclone Harriet entered the basin from the Australian region and was renamed Heather. It intensified to peak winds of 165 km/h (105 mph), making Heather the strongest storm of the season. In April, another cyclone – Jane – crossed from the Australian region and was renamed Irna, which reentered the Australian region on April 19 to end tropical activity within the basin.
The 1993–94 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season was the most active since the start of reliable satellite coverage in 1967, until it was surpassed by the 2018–19 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season, 25 years later. Activity lasted from mid-November, when Moderate Tropical Storm Alexina formed, until mid-April, when Tropical Cyclone Odille became extratropical. Four tropical cyclones – Daisy, Geralda, Litanne, and Nadia – struck eastern Madagascar, of which Geralda was the costliest and deadliest. With gusts as strong as 350 km/h (220 mph) accompanied by heavy rainfall, Geralda destroyed more than 40,000 homes and left 356,000 people homeless. Geralda killed 231 people and caused more than $10 million in damage. Cyclone Nadia was the second deadliest cyclone, having killed 12 people in northern Madagascar and later severely damaging portions of northeastern Mozambique, killing about 240 people and leaving $20 million in damage in the latter country. In February, Cyclone Hollanda struck Mauritius near peak intensity, causing $135 million in damage and two deaths.
The 2013–14 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season was an above average event in tropical cyclone formation. The season officially began on July 1, 2013, though the first tropical system designated by Météo-France was a short-lived tropical disturbance that developed on July 8. However, the first named storm was Cyclone Amara in December. Bruce was the first very intense tropical cyclone since Edzani in 2010, which originated from the Australian region. The strongest system of the cyclone season was Hellen, also one of the most intense tropical cyclones over the Mozambique Channel. The season officially ended on June 30, 2014
Very Intense Tropical Cyclone Hary was the strongest tropical cyclone in the 2001–02 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season and the strongest storm worldwide in 2002. Developing on March 5 from the monsoon trough, the storm initially moved generally to the west and gradually intensified. With favorable conditions, Hary quickly intensified on March 7, developing an eye and well-defined outflow. After reaching an initial peak, the cyclone briefly weakened due to an eyewall replacement cycle, by which time the storm turned southwestward toward Madagascar. Hary re-intensified and attained peak winds of 220 km/h (140 mph) on March 10 just offshore eastern Madagascar, which made it the first very intense tropical cyclone since 2000.
Cyclone Hudah was a powerful and destructive tropical cyclone that affected Southeast Africa in April 2000. It was the last in a series of three cyclones that impacted Madagascar during the year. Hudah first developed as a disturbance embedded within the monsoon trough on March 22, within the Australian region cyclone basin. Moving westward as the result of a strong subtropical ridge to its south, the storm quickly intensified, and reached Category 2 cyclone intensity on March 25 before entering the Southwest Indian cyclone basin. For various reasons that remain unknown, the cyclone was only designated a name by the time it had crossed into the area of responsibility of the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center in Réunion. Nonetheless, Météo-France (MFR) assigned the name Hudah to the cyclone. An eye formed, and the storm intensified into a tropical cyclone on March 27 well to the southeast of Diego Garcia. On April 1, the MFR upgraded it to a very intense tropical cyclone, estimating peak 10 minute winds of 225 km/h (140 mph). By contrast, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) estimated 1 minute winds of 235 km/h (145 mph). Cyclone Hudah maintained peak winds until making landfall just southeast of Antalaha, Madagascar on April 2. It weakened greatly over land, but re-attained tropical cyclone status on April 5 after moving over the Mozambique Channel. Hudah reached 10 minute winds of 160 km/h (100 mph) by the time it made landfall on Mozambique near Pebane, Mozambique, on April 8, and dissipated by the next day.
Cyclone Honorinina was a powerful tropical cyclone that struck eastern Madagascar in March 1986. The eighth named storm of the season, Honorinina formed on March 9 to the south of Diego Garcia. It moved generally to the west-southwest due to a ridge to the south, gradually intensifying. On March 12, the Météo France office on Réunion (MFR) upgraded Honorinina to tropical cyclone status, which is the equivalent of a minimal hurricane. On the next day, the cyclone attained maximum sustained winds of 150 km/h (95 mph) while in the vicinity of Tromelin Island. Honorinina weakened subsequently before making landfall about 40 km (25 mi) north of Toamasina, Madagascar with winds of 135 km/h (85 mph). The storm weakened further over land, moving southwestward across the country. It emerged into the Mozambique Channel and became extratropical on March 18. Honorinina turned to the southeast, dissipating on March 23.
Intense Tropical Cyclone Enawo was the strongest tropical cyclone to strike Madagascar since Gafilo in 2004, which killed at least 81 people of the country in March 2017. Forming as a moderate tropical storm on 3 March, Enawo initially drifted and intensified slowly. It strengthened into a tropical cyclone on 5 March and further an intense tropical cyclone on 6 March. Enawo made landfall over Sava Region on 7 March just after reaching peak intensity, and it emerged back into the Indian Ocean as a post-tropical depression late on 9 March, before dissipating two days later. Fifteen municipalities were severely affected, in the two most impacted districts of Antalaha and Maroantsetra.
The 2018–19 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season was the costliest and the most active season ever recorded since reliable records began in 1967. Additionally, it is also the deadliest cyclone season recorded in the South-West Indian Ocean, surpassing the 1891–92 season, in which the 1892 Mauritius cyclone devastated the island of Mauritius. The season was an event of the annual cycle of tropical cyclone and subtropical cyclone formation in the South-West Indian Ocean basin. It officially began on November 15, 2018, and ended on April 30, 2019, with the exception for Mauritius and the Seychelles, which it ended on May 15, 2019. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical and subtropical cyclones form in the basin, which is west of 90°E and south of the Equator. Tropical and subtropical cyclones in this basin are monitored by the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre in Réunion.
The 2019–20 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season is a current event of the annual cycle of tropical cyclone and subtropical cyclone formation. The season officially began on 15 November, however, the formation of the first system—Zone of Disturbed Weather 01—occurred on 22 July 2019, well before the official start of the season. It will end on 30 April 2020, with the exception of Mauritius and the Seychelles, for which it will end on 15 May 2020. These dates conventionally delimit the period of each year when most tropical and subtropical cyclones form in the basin, which is west of 90°E and south of the Equator. Tropical and subtropical cyclones in this basin are monitored by the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre in Réunion.
Cyclone Belna was a strong tropical cyclone that made landfall over northwestern Madagascar in December 2019, becoming the first to do so since Hellen in 2014. Belna's precursor—an initially broad trough of low pressure west of Seychelles—was formally designated as a zone of disturbed weather on 2 December during a favourable period for tropical cyclogenesis in the Indian Ocean. The disturbance gradually developed over the course of several days, tracking slowly westward. Météo-France (MFR) upgraded the system to a tropical depression on 5 December and then to a tropical storm later that day. Belna reached tropical cyclone strength on 7 December as it began to turn towards the southwest, peaking with maximum sustained winds of 155 km/h (100 mph) before fluctuating in intensity over the following day as it passed just east of Mayotte. On 9 December, Belna restrengthened and reattained its peak winds upon making landfall near Soalala along the northwestern coast of Madagascar. The cyclone weakened before ultimately dissipating over southern Madagascar on 11 December.
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