A powerful storm, now equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane, has been spinning off the coast of southeast Africa since late last week. Currently packing sustained winds near 138 mph as it crosses the Mozambique Channel, Tropical Cyclone Funso has brought gusty conditions and flooding rain to coastal regions of Mozambique. Some areas have received over 12-18 inches.
The storm comes just days after Tropical Depression Dando dumped copious rains in the same area early last week. Reuters Africa reports that flooding from the two storm systems has claimed at least 25 lives and displaced several thousands in Mozambique. Officials are concerned about possible food shortages following the destruction of a major national highway between the capital and northern parts of the country.
Warm sea surface temperatures in the Mozambique Channel, which separates the African mainland from the island of Madagascar, have allowed the storm to intensify. Wunderground’s Jeff Masters explains:
Conditions for intensification have been favorable over the past few days, with light wind shear of 5-10 knots, water temperatures of 29°C, and a pocket of high oceanic heat content with warm waters extending to great depth located under the center of the storm. Funso is expected to intensify further and have sustained winds of 145 mph by Wednesday.
Considering the intensity of this storm, nearby African countries have fortunately been spared from its most destructive winds. Although Funso made a close approach to the Mozambique coast as a Category 2 storm, it not make landfall. Since strengthening into a Category 4 tropical cyclone, the storm is on a south-southeast trajectory that will likely keep it from threatening any more land areas.
For more information on Funso’s development and anticipated track, take a look at this in-depth video by tropical weather writer Levi Cowan: