Tropical Storm Freddy was on track to hit the coast of southern Africa again early Saturday, after killing at least 27 people in Mozambique and Madagascar since it first made landfall last month.
The World Meteorological Organization stated that the current mark for the longest-lasting tropical cyclone is held by a 31-day hurricane in 1994. Freddy was one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Southern Hemisphere and may have broken that record as well.
Freddy was given his first name on February 6—33 days ago.
According to the U.N. relief agency OCHA, more than 171,000 people were impacted when the cyclone swept through southern Mozambique two weeks ago, bringing with it heavy rains and floods that destroyed homes and damaged crops.
The most recent fatality toll from Freddy was 27 as of Friday, with 10 occurring in Mozambique and 17 in Madagascar.
According to Mozambique’s national disaster management agency, up to 565,000 people could be at danger this time in the provinces of Zambezia, Tete, Sofala, and Nampula, with Zambezia predicted to be the worst-hit.
The organization had relocated people to temporary shelters in anticipation of the storm’s landfall in the early hours of Saturday, according to Nelson Ludovico, head of its central region.
“It’s a slow-moving cyclone. This is bad news in terms of rainfall because it means it’s hovering quite close to the coast and it’s picking up more moisture, so the rainfall will be heavier,” Clare Nullis, spokesperson for the World Meteorological Organization, told reporters in Geneva.
The storm is likely to cause extreme rainfall over large parts of Mozambique as well as northeastern Zimbabwe, southeast Zambia and Malawi, she said.
Around the world, climate change is making hurricanes wetter, windier and more intense, scientists say. Oceans absorb much of the heat from greenhouse gas emissions, and when warm seawater evaporates its heat energy is transferred to the atmosphere, fueling stronger storms.
Freddy has set a record for the highest accumulated cyclone energy, a measure of the storm’s strength over time, of any Southern Hemisphere storm in history, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The storm has generated about as much accumulated cyclone energy on its own as an average North Atlantic hurricane season, Nullis said.
“World record or not, Freddy will remain in any case an exceptional phenomenon for the history of the southwest Indian Ocean on many aspects: longevity, distance covered, remarkable maximum intensity, accumulated cyclone energy amount, [and] impact on inhabited lands,” said Sebastien Langlade, a cyclone forecaster at the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre in La Reunion, in a statement from the WMO.