Category 3 Bingiza hits Madagascar
Tropical Cyclone Bingiza roared ashore over Northern Madagascar early today as a dangerous Category 3 hurricane with 115 mph winds. Recent microwave imagery from NASA's TRMM satellite shows that Bingza had a large region of heavy rains of 0.4 - 0.7 inches per hour in the eyewall and inner spiral bands at landfall. Rainfall amounts of up to 8 inches are being predicted along Bingza's path over northern Madagascar for the coming 24 hours by NOAA's automated tropical cyclone rainfall prediction system. Rains of this magnitude are capable of causing dangerous flooding in Madagascar, and the storm's winds and storm surge likely caused serious damage in the moderately populated area where the storm came ashore. Bingiza will weaken today as it traverses the island, but is expected to re-intensify once it emerges over the Mozambique Channel between Africa and Madagascar on Tuesday, where sea surface temperatures are about 0.4°C above average. As the storm skirts the western coast of Madagascar Tuesday and Wednesday, the island will receive additional very heavy rains on its mountainous slopes. Madagascar suffers from extensive deforestation, and a storm like Bingiza is capable of causing very dangerous floods.
Figure 1. True color satellite image of Tropical Cyclone Bingiza as it approached landfall in Madagascar at 07 UTC on February 13, 2011. Image credit: NASA.
Bingiza is just the second tropical cyclone in the Southwest Indian Ocean (west of 90E) during the 2010 - 2011 season; this is an unusually low amount of activity for the basin. The only other storm so far this season has been Tropical Cyclone Abele (29 Nov - 4 Dec 2010), a Category 1 storm that stayed out to sea. Bingiza is the 4th major (Category 3 or stronger) tropical cyclone world-wide this year.