Madagascar awaits Cyclone Hellen
Blog by Jo Farrow
Issued: 31st March 2014 09:38
Updated: 31st March 2014 09:44

Madagascar awaits Cyclone Hellen

As the second report, in a series, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)is being agreed in Japan, Cyclone Hellen is about to arrive in NW Madagascar. Climate change is making Madagascar more susceptible to cyclones by increasing their frequency and intensity in the region. On average, there would be 3 or 4 cyclones hitting the massive island, and the expected increase has led another United Nations body - UNICEF to begin cyclone-proofing schools. This then ensures that the buildings stay standing and education continues, despite the growing impact of climate change.
Cyclone Hellen is forecast to make landfall at 12Z on Monday 31st with mean winds of 95knots (over 64knots being hurricane strength). It currently at a strength equal to a Cat 3 major hurricane, although weakening now. The JTWC quotes ‘THE SYSTEM IS EXPECTED TO REMAIN INLAND AND TRACK OVER FAIRLY ROUGH TERRAIN FOR ABOUT 30 HOURS.’ This latest update is a change showing  Hellen will weaken significantly overland, although still with torrential rain and damaging winds. Landfall will be close to the densely populated area of Mahajanga. This is a favourite tourist destination for Malagasy tourists, with beautiful beaches and a coconut-lined boardwalk.
The forecast is proving tricky with the models not handling the path well. A storm surge of up to 4m is expected but with a slightly different track, the geography further west there were worries of a surge of up to 7m. After Hellen has finished with Madagascar it is expect she could move into the Mozambique Channel if she survives the track over the mountainous NW of Madagascar.


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