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Freddy may break tropical cyclone record: UN

By AFP
Africa Cyclone Freddy, monitored last month by forecasters in the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion.  By Richard BOUHET (AFP)
FRI, 10 MAR 2023 LISTEN
Cyclone Freddy, monitored last month by forecasters in the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion. By Richard BOUHET (AFP)

Freddy is on track to break the record as the longest-lasting tropical cyclone, the United Nations said Friday as the killer storm was set to hit Mozambique once again.

"Freddy is continuing its incredible and dangerous journey," Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the UN's World Meteorological Organization, told reporters in Geneva.

Freddy developed off the north Australian coast and became a named storm on February 6.

The current record is held by Hurricane/Typhoon John, which lasted 31 days in 1994, the WMO said.

Freddy has been a named tropical cyclone for 33 days.

Once it has dissipated, a WMO climate extremes expert committee will assess all the data to determine whether a new record has been indeed set -- a process which could take months.

Freddy has periodically weakened below tropical storm status, such as when it was lingering over Mozambique and Zimbabwe the first time around.

"We will obviously need to address if that is a concern in our evaluation," said Randall Cerveny, the WMO's Weather and Climate Extremes rapporteur.

Freddy crossed the entire southern Indian Ocean and made landfall in Madagascar on February 21, crossing the island before reaching Mozambique on February 24.

It tracked over Mozambique and Zimbabwe, bringing heavy rains and flooding.

It then looped back towards the coast, picking up moisture and strength from the warm waters, hit Madagascar again and is now heading back towards Mozambique.

Freddy is expected to make landfall in the northern province of Zambezia late Friday or possibly Saturday morning.

Madagascar was hit by Freddy on February 23.  By JOS LESOA (AFP) Madagascar was hit by Freddy on February 23. By JOSÉ LESOA (AFP)

"There will be very destructive winds, a very dangerous storm surge on landfall and extreme rainfall over large areas, not just in Mozambique but northeast Zimbabwe, southeast Zambia and Malawi," said Nullis.

The expected rainfall totals are around 200 to 300 millimetres (7.9-11, but locally it could be more than 400-500 mm over the landing area.

"This is more than twice the usual monthly rainfall and its coming on top of the existing rainfall that Freddy caused the first time around," Nullis said.

The last cyclones to cross the entire southern Indian Ocean were Tropical Cyclones Leon-Eline and Hudah in 2000.

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