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Cyclone Freddy Sets Record for Longest-Lived Tropical Storm, Causing Devastation in Malawi and Mozambique

Tropical Cyclone Freddy has officially become Earth’s longest-lived tropical storm, lasting a remarkable 37 days in total.[0] The previous record was 31 days, set by Hurricane John in 1994.[1] This record-breaking feat is likely to be confirmed by storm data and has been marked by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Freddy has also released an astonishing amount of energy during its long life, measured using the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index.[0] As of March 7, 2023, Freddy had an ACE of 72, making it the second most powerful cyclone since 1980.[2] The central Pacific hurricane of 2006, Ioke, holds the record for the highest Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) at 85.[2]

The cyclone has caused significant damage, particularly in Mozambique and Malawi. In Malawi, 225 people have died, with hundreds more injured and some still missing.[3] In Mozambique, at least 20 people have died, with over 45,000 people holed up in shelters and 1,300 square kilometers (800 square miles) still underwater.

Apart from its record-breaking duration, Freddy is also the first tropical cyclone to experience seven phases of rapid intensification (RI) over its lifetime.[4] Rapid Intensification (RI) is defined as when winds in a tropical cyclone exceed 55 km/h within a 24 hour period.[4] The storm made its first landfall in Madagascar on February 21, then moved out to sea, narrowly missing Madagascar again before turning around and hitting Mozambique a second time on March 11, along with Malawi and Zimbabwe.[5]

The devastating effects of Cyclone Freddy are still being felt in Malawi and Mozambique, and the search for the 37 people still missing continues. Aid agencies are working to help those affected by the storm, and the WMO is looking to confirm Freddy’s record-breaking feat.

0. “Freddy becomes longest-lived tropical cyclone on record” The Washington Post, 7 Mar. 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2023/03/07/cyclone-freddy-indian-ocean-hurricane

1. “More than 220 killed by record-breaking Cyclone Freddy” Al Jazeera English, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/15/more-than-220-killed-by-record-breaking-cyclone-freddy

2. “For the Longest Time” nasa.gov, 8 Mar. 2023, https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/151065/for-the-longest-time

3. “Malawi president attends funeral of cyclone victims” Africanews English, 16 Mar. 2023, https://www.africanews.com/2023/03/16/malawi-president-attends-funeral-of-cyclone-victims/

4. “The cyclone that lived longest: How Freddy broke all kinds of records” Down To Earth Magazine, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/natural-disasters/the-cyclone-that-lived-longest-how-freddy-broke-all-kinds-of-records-88258

5. “Deadly cyclone ‘Freddy' may be the longest-lived and most energetic storm ever recorded” Livescience.com, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.livescience.com/deadly-cyclone-freddy-may-be-the-longest-lived-and-most-energetic-storm-ever-recorded

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