Giovanna formed as a tropical storm over the southern Indian Ocean on 9 February 2012 [NASA]

Tropical Cyclone Giovanna, currently located in the southern Indian Ocean, continues its track towards the island nation of Madagascar.

On Sunday morning, both the main airport and the port in Mauritius remained closed as the eye of Giovanna was positioned approximately 280 kilometres to the north. The outer rain bands of the storm were already bringing heavy showers to the capital city of Port Louis. 

Over the next 36 hours, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) is forecasting the continued westward track of Cyclone Giovanna. Winds have decreased, but it is expected that the storm will strengthen again and reach an intensity of 200 kph with gusts up to 250 kph before making landfall on Madagascar’s eastern seaboard.

The coastal city of Toamasina, with a population of 200,000, is preparing for the full force of the storm. Those living closest to the shore can expect to see storm surge of up to a metre over normal tidal heights.

While Toamasina is expected to be where the cyclone makes landfall, another 750,000 residents, particularly across the capital region, could see anywhere from 150 to 300 millimetres of rain during the course of the storm. This will mean the likelihood of flash flooding and mudslides inland.

Cyclone Giovanna will weaken rapidly once making landfall. The mountainous terrain, as well as the lack of warm water to feed on, is expected to bring the strength of the storm down to the intensity of a weak tropical storm before exiting the western coast.

This may not be the end of Giovanna. Once entering the warm waters of the Mozambique Channel early Wednesday morning, it is expected that the storm could regain some of its strength and possibly make a second landfall on the southern coast of Mozambique later in the week.

Source: Al Jazeera