Intense and powerful tropical cyclone Fantala is churning northwestward this evening in the southwest Indian Ocean with maximum sustained winds of 175 mph… according to the latest data from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
This makes the storm equivalent to a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir Simpson hurricane wind scale.
The good news… over the next couple of days… the worst of Fantala’s damaging wind and heavy rain should stay north of Madagascar… but northern portions of the island could see bands of rain and gusty winds.
Colorado State’s Philip Klotzbach reports that Fantala is tied with Agnielle (1996) as 2nd strongest southern Indian Ocean storm on record.
The incredible image below is from NOAA/NASA showing the eye of the storm at around 5:57am our time (EDT) this morning.
Below is the forecast track and conditions of Fantala from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.