Africa

Strongest cyclone in 13 years hits Madagascar

Cyclone Enawo makes landfall in northeastern Madagascar, packing winds of up to 270 kilometres per hour.

Cyclone Enawo made landfall in northeastern Madagascar as an equivalent Category 4 hurricane [NASA]

The strongest cyclone to hit Madagascar in 13 years has made landfall on the northeastern coast of the island nation on Tuesday.

Cyclone Enawo was packing winds of 230 kilometres per hour when it made landfall, with stronger gusts of up to 270 kph and a central pressure of 925 millibars, making it equivalent to a power category 4 hurricane. 

The last time Madagascar experienced a storm of this magnitude was in March 2004 when Cyclone Gafilo made landfall in approximately the same location, claiming 236 lives and destroying more than 20,000 homes.

Even though it has been more than 24 hours since the storm made landfall between the coastal communities of Farahalana and Antalaha, the amount of rain from the remnants of Enawo is still expected to cause dangerous flash flooding and mudslides through late week.

With 89 percent of Madagascar's roads being dirt, getting into the hardest hit areas of the north and east will be difficult.  Very little information has come out of those regions, but it is expected that there will be widespread power outages from down trees and extensive flood damage. 

Reports of casualties and injured were expected to rise in the coming days.

Through Thursday the storm will continue to move south across the island, continue to bring with it heavy rainfall and gusty winds. By Friday, what is left of Enawo will have exited the southern tip of the country and back into the Indian Ocean.

Normally the Indian Ocean sees 4-5 "hurricane strength" cyclones each year. Cyclone Hellen was the last cyclone to make landfall in Madagascar in March 2014.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies