Mar 7, 2017

Category 4 Tropical Cyclone Enawo Hits Madagascar

Antalaha
Madagascar
by
Jeff Masters
,
Category 6
Visible MODIS image of Enawo taken at 10:24 UTC (5:24 am EST) Tuesday March 7, 2017. At the time, Enawo had just made landfall over northeast Madagascar as a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Image: NASA
Visible MODIS image of Enawo taken at 10:24 UTC (5:24 am EST) Tuesday March 7, 2017. At the time, Enawo had just made landfall over northeast Madagascar as a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Image: NASA

Extremely dangerous Tropical Cyclone Enawo hit northeastern Madagascar near 3 am EST Tuesday as a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Enawo is the third strongest tropical cyclone on record to strike the island, and severe impacts are likely from the storm’s torrential rains, high winds, and large storm surge (though in their 1 am EST (6 UTC) Tuesday advisory, Meteo France in La Reunion reduced their peak storm surge forecast for the storm to 1 - 2 meters.) Of most concern are the rains from Enawo, as it is an unusually large and wet storm. The amount of water vapor detected by satellite is near the very high end of what is observed in tropical cyclones—precipitable water values up to 3.0 inches. Recent runs of the HWRF model predict extreme rainfall amounts falling on heavily populated regions of Madagascar, and Enawo has the potential to be a top-three most damaging storm in the island’s history. Enawo will decay rapidly as it takes a track directly down the length of Madagascar, exposing the entire island to flooding rains. However, the disaster could have been worse—more than half of the rivers in Madagascar have dried up or are flowing at less than 5 percent of their average streamflow, thanks to a two-year El Niño-linked drought. Enawo’s rains will help break the drought, which has caused large-scale crop failures and put over half a million people into acute food insecurity, according to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network.