Cyclone Freddy smashes records; Becomes Earth’s most energetic storm

The effects in Malawi

* The inexhaustible storm first developed on February 6 north of Western Australia

* It has already traced an 8,850-kilometre path to south-eastern Africa

* It struck Madagascar on February 19 and Mozambique for the first time on February 24

Maravi Express

A report by international media house, Sunday Morning Herald, indicates that Cyclone Freddy – the storm that has lashed Mozambique for a second time whose effects have caused loss of lives and property devastation – “is solidifying its status as the most relentless tropical cyclone ever observed”.


The report published on Monday, March 13, says on March 7, Cyclone Freddy became the longest-lived tropical cyclone ever recorded and “now it has shattered the record for the planet’s most energetic storm”.

Writes Matthew Cappucci of the Sunday Morning Herald: The inexhaustible storm, which first developed on February 6 north of Western Australia, has already traced an 8,850-kilometre path to south-eastern Africa.

It struck Madagascar on February 19 and Mozambique for the first time on February 24. Having crossed the Mozambique Channel three times, Freddy is now making its second Mozambique landfall.

On Sunday, Freddy was centres near the mouth of the Zambezi River in and had winds of about 88 km/h. The storm crossed the coast on Saturday as the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane before gradually losing strength over land.

The storm was blamed for 27 deaths in Madagascar and Mozambique when it lashed the two countries last month. Amid its second landfall in Mozambique this weekend, at least one person has died, Reuters reports, but the full scope of the cyclone’s toll is still unknown because “communications and electricity supply in the storm area have been cut”.

Freddy’s record-setting longevity

Freddy attained Category 5 strength twice over the southern Indian Ocean in mid-February, and has been named for 34 days. That eclipses the previous world record-holder, Hurricane John, which spent 31 days as a named Pacific storm between August 11 and September 13, 1994.


In addition, Freddy has rapidly intensified an unprecedented seven times, compared with the previous record, which was four times. Rapid intensification describes a jump of 56km/h or greater in a storm’s winds in 24 hours or less. While most major hurricanes and storms do rapidly intensify at least once, anything more than three times in a storm’s life cycle is exceptional.

The world’s most energetic tropical cyclone

After smashing records for lasting so long and intensifying so many times, Freddy managed to become Earth’s most energetic storm ever observed after reaching a key threshold this weekend.

How much energy a storm churns through is calculated through a metric known as ACE, or Accumulated Cyclone Energy. It reflects both a storm’s intensity and duration. Storms harvest such energy from warm ocean waters and expend it through their winds and by generating precipitation.

As of Saturday evening, Freddy had tallied somewhere in the neighbourhood of 86 ACE units, surpassing the record of 85.26 set by hurricane and typhoon Ioke in August to September 2006. That’s more ACE than 100 of the past 172 Atlantic hurricane seasons – not individual storms, but entire seasons’ worth of ACE.


While Freddy has broken records for rapid intensification, longevity and energy dispersed, it hasn’t spent its whole life at hurricane strength. It weakened to a tropical storm after landfall in Madagascar on February 21 and a depression following its first landfall in Mozambique days later.

What’s next for Freddy

It’s likely that Freddy will finally dissipate by late Monday or early Tuesday as it unloads its heavy rain in northern and central Mozambique. Some places could see roughly 63 centimetres.

While the mid-level circulation left behind by Freddy’s remnants may drift back south-east over the Mozambique Channel into Wednesday, the shredded tropical entrails don’t look to have any chance of coming back to life.

Meanwhile, Times360 reports that Department of Disaster Management Affairs Commissioner Charles Kalemba disclosed that so far total of 99 people have been confirmed dead in some districts in the Southern Region due to floods and landslides emanating from Cyclone Freddy.

He has a press briefing currently underway in Blantyre, saying of these, Blantyre has the highest number at 85 but deaths have also been reported in Chikwawa, Nsanje and Chiradzulu districts.

The report quotes Kalemba as saying so far, 4,000 households have been affected, which translates to over 10,000 people.—Reported by Justin Mkweu, Times360