The Intersection

Look Out for Cyclone Favio


According to the latest advisory from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, this storm, currently passing south of Madagascar and entering the Mozambique Channel, is a strong Category 3 (105 knot or roughly 120 mph winds) possibly on its way to Category 4. What’s troubling about that is the projected track for Favio, shown below in an image from Tropical Storm Risk.


If the part of the South Indian ocean conducive to cyclones were a football field, then Madagascar would be the twenty yard line and Mozambique (where Favio seems headed) would be the end zone. In Storm World, I discuss the devastating Cyclone Gafilo, which smacked Madgascar as a Category 5 in March of 2004. Mozambique has also had some cyclone disasters in recent memory, especially in 2000 from Cyclone Eline and Cyclone Hudah. Published research suggests that warm sea surface temperatures and La Nina contributed to that very destructive season.

I’m not sure what kind of conditions are prevailing at the present moment in this area, but I am sure (from watching the models and forecasts) that the fairly rapid intensification of Cyclone Favio over the past few days was not expected. Let’s hope this storm doesn’t prove anywhere near as bad for Mozambique as Eline and Hudah did in 2000…


  1. #1 llewelly
    February 20, 2007

    It sseems to me that beyond statistical and dynamic models, the usual guidelines for rapid intesification are tropical heat potential , SSTs and shear . 26C thermocline depth also plays a role.

    Of these – only tropical heat potential clearly indicated against rapid intesification, as 90 kJ per cm^2 is usually considered the minimum for rapid intesification. But I seem to recall that of all the East Pacific storms of 2006, only Ioke (arguably a central pacifiic storm) was over waters of at least 90 kJ/cm^2 .
    Shear could be considered indicating against rapid intesification, but only because the area of low shear is small and as been so for some time.
    So it’s interesting to me that neither models nor official forecasts predicted rapid intesification, when both 26C depth and SSTs were favorable, and shear was at least not unfavorable.
    Favio has also been under a strong upper high, which looks to be contributiing to its very good outflow, and low shear. This could also have been seen as a positive indicator, but perhaps it was discounted because of the small size of the upper high – it did not seem to me that Favio was likely to stay under the upper high.

  2. #2 R Simmon
    February 20, 2007
  3. #3 John Fleck
    February 20, 2007

    My first exposure to the now-ubiquitous Roger Pielke Jr. was a talk he gave at an AMS meeting years ago in which he talked about Hurricane Mitch, which was so much more devastating than other hurricanes with which I was familiar in large part because the folks it dumped on were poor.

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