January 2021 Worldwide Cyclone Summary

Eloise, the strongest storm this month, caused serious damage in Mozambique.

This January has been a fairly active month compared to climatology in cyclone activity. As is typical for January, activity was spread out between the 3 Southern Hemisphere basins.

The Southwest Indian Ocean saw the formation of 1 cyclone, Cyclone Eloise. Eloise formed on January 14 well to the east of Madagascar, eventually impacting the island as a mid-strength tropical storm. After clearing the island, Eloise quickly strengthened on its approach to Mozambique, peaking as a Category 2 equivalent storm as it made landfall in Beira with 1-minute winds near 105 mph and 10 minute winds near 90 mph. Eloise weakened as it moved inland over Africa, dissipating on January 25. Eloise caused severe damage in Mozambique, with at least 21 deaths reported.

In the Australian Basin, activity was unusually high with the JTWC designating 6 cyclones: Imogen, Joshua, Kimi, Lucas, 08U and 12U. The first 4 were also classified by the Bureau of Meteorology, the last two being tropical lows by their estimates.

The most notable storms this month in the Australian Basin were Kimi, Lucas and 12U.  With a lifespan ranging from the 16th to the 19th of January, Kimi took a short but unpredictable track in the middle of the month, peaking with both 1 and 10-minute winds of 65 mph. Despite its proximity to land, no impacts have been reported.

Lucas was the strongest storm to form in the Australian basin this month, peaking at 75 mph in 1-minute winds and 70 mph in 10-minute winds over the South Pacific. The cyclone formed on January 25, and crossed over into the South Pacific basin on February 1. Shortly thereafter, Lucas made landfall over New Caledonia as a weakened storm, dissipating on February 3. Damages are currently unknown, and no deaths have been reported as a result of Lucas.

12U was a very unusual storm that took a winding track along the northern coastline of West Australia, forming over land on January 30 and staying over it for 5 days while maintaining its strength as a tropical depression. It finally attained tropical storm strength as it approached the coastline and peaked as a 40 mph storm, however it began extratropical transition shortly thereafter and dissipated on February 5.

For the South Pacific Basin, activity was limited to 2 systems, Ana and Bina. Ana formed on January 26 northeast of Port Vila, Vanuatu, and began to gradually strengthen. After several days, Ana made landfall over Viti Levu, Fiji as a Category 1 storm on the SSHWS and a Category 3 on the Australian scale, peaking with 75 mph winds in both scales. After clearing Fiji, Ana weakened significantly, dissipating on February 3. Damages from Ana are unknown, with 1 person confirmed dead and 5 others still missing as of February 7.

A moderately strong cyclone, Ana caused impacts on Viti Levu, Fiji, where it made landfall.

Bina also took a similar track to Ana from January 29-31, with its remnants making landfall just after its dissipation. Bina peaked with 10-minute winds of 40 mph and 1 minute winds of 50 mph. No significant impacts to land were reported as a result of Bina.


Force Thirteen also produces regular updates on their Twitter page and YouTube channel. Force Thirteen’s Cyclone Tracker also provides updated graphics and info on cyclones around the world.

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