Why the Indian Ocean is spawning strong and deadly tropical cyclones

phys.org | 4/26/2019 | Staff
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The Indian Ocean has made its mark on the global news cycle this year. In March, tropical cyclone Idai made headlines as one of the most severe storms to have made landfall in Mozambique. Current estimates indicate that more than 1,000 people died. This makes it the most deadly tropical cyclone ever to have made landfall on the southern African subcontinent.

Until Idai, tropical cyclone Eline, which struck in 2000, was the most devastating tropical cyclone to make landfall in Mozambique.

Idai - Eline - Strongest—though - Deadliest—cyclone - Cost

After Idai, Eline was the strongest—though not the deadliest—cyclone to have hit the southern east African cost. This ranking as the strongest was soon after challenged by tropical cyclone Kenneth, a category 4 tropical cyclone that made landfall over the border of Mozambique and Tanzania six weeks after Idai.

Kenneth, in many regards, took the region by surprise. The storm was the northernmost tropical cyclone to make landfall on Mozambique, and the first to make landfall on Tanzania. It occurred very late in the season. Most cyclones in the region occur from January to March. It was also unusual for the Mozambique Channel to experience two severe tropical cyclones that made landfall within one season.

Cyclone - Ocean - Weeks - Kenneth - Cyclone

The third major cyclone to emerge out of the Indian Ocean came a few weeks after Kenneth, when cyclone Fani, a tropical cyclone on the border of Category 5 intensity wind speeds, hit the east coast of India. Category 5 tropical cyclones were only first recorded in the North Indian Ocean from 1989 so, again, this storm is unusually severe in the context of the longer historical records.

These high intensity storms have been tied to the very warm sea surface temperatures in the Indian Ocean. Temperatures of 30°C are occurring more often and over longer periods of time. This is a result of gradual warming on a global...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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