The record-breaking 2019 cyclone season in the Indian Ocean continues this Friday morning with tropical cyclones forming on both sides of the equator. In the Northern Hemisphere, Tropical Cyclone Pawan threatens Somalia and eastern Africa with heavy rainfall and the threat for flooding. In the Southern Hemisphere, Tropical Cyclone Belna threatens Madagascar and the Comoros while Tropical Cyclone Ambali rapidly intensifies into a powerful Category 4-equivalent storm. This morning’s focus is on Ambali, which is located well to the northeast of Madagascar, and poses no immediate threat to land.
Current Storm Information
Météo-France La Réunion (MFR), the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) in Réunion, and the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) in Pearl Harbor, HI, are issuing tropical cyclone forecast and warning products on Tropical Cyclone Ambali. As of MFR’s latest update, Very Intense Tropical Cyclone Ambali was located near 10.5°S, 62.2°E, about 1355 km north-northeast of Réunion, or about 1870 km east of Mayotte. Ambali is moving toward the south-southwest at near 11 km/h (7 mph), and this motion is forecast to continue during the next day or so, followed by a turn to the southwest on Sunday. Maximum 10-minute sustained winds are 220 km/h (140 mph), and maximum 1-minute sustained winds are 250 km/h (155 mph). The minimum central pressure is 930 mb (27.46 inches). Ambali is likely near or has reached its peak intensity, and the cyclone is forecast to gradually weaken over the next few days as it moves generally southwestward. Ambali is forecast to weaken to a tropical storm by Sunday, and further weaken to a tropical depression by Monday, and poses no immediate threat to land over the next few days.
An Active Cyclone Season Continues
Tropical cyclone activity in the Indian Ocean continues to be well above-average as the end of the 2019 season approaches. A combination of unusually favorable atmospheric and oceanic conditions have been responsible for this very busy year. Throughout much of the year, sea surface temperatures in the western Indian Ocean have been much above average due to an oscillation known as the Indian Ocean Dipole. It is an irregularly periodic oscillation in sea surface temperatures across the Indian Ocean, somewhat akin to the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in the Western Hemisphere. Currently, sea surface temperatures in the eastern Indian Ocean are markedly below average, while sea surface temperatures in the eastern Indian Ocean are above average. This configuration is the result of a strongly positive phase of the Indian Ocean Dipole, and it has led to increased cyclone activity in the eastern Indian Ocean and enhanced rainfall in eastern Africa. Additionally, this tropical cyclone outbreak in the Indian Ocean is occurring during the passage of a favorable phase of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO). The MJO is an atmospheric oscillation which is characterized by an eastward progression of enhanced and suppressed tropical rainfall which propagates around the globe within the span of 30 to 90 days. This favorable phase of the MJO has resulted in enhanced rainfall and convective activity over the Indian Ocean, which has assisted in the development and intensification of these tropical cyclones. Favorable environmental conditions are expected to persist through the beginning of the next calendar year, and it appears that this active Indian cyclone season isn’t ending anytime soon.
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