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Hurricane Season 2009: Eric and Fanele (Indian Ocean)
Jan. 22, 2009

AIRS image of Fanele> Larger image
Credit: NASA JPL, Ed Olsen
Tropical Storm Fanele Re-Emerges into Waters, Leaves Devastation Behind

Now a tropical storm in the Mozambique Channel, Fanele's trek through western Madagascar caused a lot of damage as it plowed through the country as a category one hurricane with 90 mph winds.

The Mozambique Channel is a part of the Indian Ocean located between the island of Madagascar and Mozambique, located in the southeastern region of the African continent.

According to Reuters news service, 2,600 people are now homeless and as many as 4,000 people have been affected by Fanele's winds and rains. Reports cite widespread flooding and extensive structural damages. Reuters reports that 80 percent of the homes in the town of Morondava are now roof-less. Power and water supplies are currently in the process of being restored. The Associated press reported that about 9,400 people were isolated in one district near Morondava where half the land area was underwater.

On Thursday, January 22 at 09:00 UTC (4:00 a.m. EST), Fanele had weakened into a weak tropical storm with maximum sustained winds near 30 knots (35 mph). It was located near 25.0 degrees south latitude and 48.7 degrees east longitude, that's about 370 miles south-southeast of Antananarivo, Madagascar. Fanele was moving east-southeast near 16 knots (18 mph). Forecasters at the Joint Typhoon Warning Center expect that Fanele will briefly re-intensify before starting to transition to extra-tropical status.

NASA's Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite captured this visible image of Fanele on Jan. 19 at 10:59 UTC (5:59 UTC), just before it made landfall. Fanele is now southeast of where it was at that time.

TRMM image of Fanele> Larger image
Credit: NASA/SSAI, Hal Pierce
NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite was also flying overhead on Jan. 19 before Fanele made landfall, and it captured a snapshot of the heavy rains that the storm brought southwestern Madagascar.

This image was created from data on Jan. 19 at 19:34 UTC (4:34 p.m. EST). This TRMM image shows the horizontal pattern of rain intensity within Fanele. The center is located near the yellow, green and red areas, which indicate rainfall between 20 and 40 millimeters (.78 to 1.57 inches) per hour. The very tiny red areas are considered moderate rainfall. TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.

Madagascar usually experiences as many as four major cyclones annually. Last year, 2008, more than 100 deaths were attributed to cyclones Fame, Ivan and Jokwe.

Related Links:

> Historic information on Tropical Cyclone Fame
> Historic information on Tropical Cyclone Ivan
> Historic information on Tropical Cyclone Jokwe
> TRMM Web site

Jan. 21, 2009

Two Tropical Cyclones Hit Madagascar

satellite image of Eric Credit: NASA/JPL/Ed Olsen
> Larger image
Two tropical cyclones spawned this week in the southern Indian Ocean: Eric and Fanele, and both brought rains and winds to the African island nation of Madagascar. Although Eric was short-lived and has moved off-shore and weakened, Fanele continues to rain over the island.

Madagascar is an island nation in the Indian Ocean. It’s the fourth largest island in the world, and is located off the southeastern coast of Africa.

Tropical Cyclone Eric

On Monday, Jan. 19, Tropical cyclone Eric, also known as Tropical Cyclone 08S (for the eighth tropical cyclone in the southern Indian Ocean this season) made landfall in the eastern Fenerive-Est region, packing sustained winds around 62 mph (100km/hour). By Jan. 20, Eric was a tropical depression. By Jan. 21, Eric was extratropical and was located more than 300 miles west-southwest of the island of Reunion. Reunion is located east of Madagascar, and about 130 miles (200 km) southwest of Mauritius, the nearest island. Because Eric is fading quickly, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center will not issue any additional advisories on the system.

NASA's Aqua satellite flew over both Eric and Fanele and generated images of them from space. The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument onboard Aqua captured both storms' cloud temperatures. AIRS produced this infrared image of Eric on Jan. 20 at 4:59 a.m. EST (9:59 UTC). Eric is seen as the circular area of blue, located east of Madagascar.

The AIRS infrared images show the frigid cloud top temperatures, giving forecasters a clue to a storm's strength. The coldest temperatures (and highest cloud tops) are usually shown in purple. Those purple areas are as cold as 220 degrees Kelvin or minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (F) or colder. The lower clouds are depicted as the blue areas, which are around 240 degrees Kelvin, or minus 27F.

Tropical Storm Fanele Still a Category One Hurricane Over Land

satellite images of Eric and Fanele Credit: NASA/JPL/Ed Olsen
> Larger image
While Eric came from the west and hit Madagascar, Fanele came from the east.

On Jan. 20, while Fanele was still over open water, it had intensified strongly and was a category three tropical cyclone. The storm then headed southeast into Madagascar and made landfall on the morning of Jan. 21, local time, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph (190 km/hr).

Once Fanele made landfall, it began moving across the island, and was quickly losing intensity. Although the storm will reemerge over water in one or two days' time, it will not regain strength due to hostile atmospheric conditions east of Madagascar. Fanele is forecast to become extratropical within 48 hours.

Aqua's AIRS instrument produced these infrared images of Fanele on Jan. 20 at 22:29 UTC (7:29 p.m. EST) and Jan. 21 at 5:41 a.m. EST (10:41 UTC). The remnant of extratropical storm Eric can be seen to the southeast in the right image from January 21.

At 9:00 UTC (4:00 a.m. EST) on Jan. 21, Fanele was located near 21.2 degrees south latitude and 44.2 degrees east longitude. That's about 260 miles west-southwest of Antananarivo, Madagascar. Its maximum sustained winds had decreased to 75 knots (86 mph), making it a category one hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Text credit: Rob Gutro, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center