Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tropical Cyclone Giovanna & Madagascar

Our forecasts will continue to discuss the upcoming storm threat for the weekend. Some intrigue for sure, but in my own personal opinion, I'm not so sure the end result will be that exciting. But in the meantime, I'm shifting gears and talking the tropics.

Giovanna Approaching Madagascar
Credit: NASA
Typically, when thinking of the tropics and Africa, you associate storms and hurricanes with waves coming off the West Coast of the continent. Well, on Monday evening, Madagascar, the island nation off the southeast coast of Africa was struck by Category 3 Tropical Cyclone Giovanna. At least 16 people have died from this storm, though the worst hit areas appear to be rural areas east and north of the capital of Madagascar: Antananarivo.

This is not uncommon at all, as Madagascar is frequently struck by tropical cyclones during their summertime rainy season. Given Madagascar's location in the Southern Hemisphere, its position is not terribly unanalogous to the Windward Islands in terms of how easily it can be struck by tropical cyclones. We're in the prime time for storms to hit there, and you can see from the link above, there have been several substantial storms in that region of the world. Giovanna is somewhat anomalous in that it was a very strong storm to hit.

Check out some of the interesting satellite imagery captured as Giovanna approached and made landfall on Madagascar. Here's a satellite loop (from the Univ of Wisconsin...which operates the CIMSS blog, a great bookmark). You can watch Giovanna make landfall from that Microwave imagery strung together from the Naval Research Lab. This is really, really good imagery for a Southern Hemisphere tropical system. You can see a well defined eyewall, and you can see how it loses definition approaching the island, presumably interacting with both upper atmospheric and land features in that region. 

Hurricane season here in the US starts on June 1st.