With Cyclone Fantala, the Indian Ocean experiences its strongest storm on record

By Tom Yulsman | April 19, 2016 9:33 pm
Cyclone Fantala

NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this natural-color image of Cyclone Fantala at 1:25 p.m. local time on April 18, 2016. (Source: NASA Earth Observatory)

It’s now the Indian Ocean’s turn.

After record setting cyclones in the Northeast Pacific (Hurricane Patricia, Oct. 2015), and the Southwest Pacific (Tropical Cyclone Winston, Feb. 2016), the Indian Ocean has now experienced its strongest storm on record.

Say hello to Cyclone Fantala, as seen in the satellite image above. Fantala’s wind speeds reached an estimated 170 miles per hour on April 18, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Modern, reliable records of storm strength in the Indian Ocean extend back only to 1990, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory, source of the image above. But still, I think it’s an achievement worth marking.

Cyclone Fantala

An animation of enhanced infrared satellite images shows Cyclone Fantala swirling in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar, ending early in the morning local time on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. (Source: CIMSS)

Fantala has since weakened considerably, with winds subsiding to just shy of 100 miles per hour as I’m writing this on April 20th local time. The cyclone is expected to make a nearly 180-degree to the southeast and possibly head towards Madagascar — likely in a much weakened state.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: select, Top Posts, Tropical Cyclones
  • Mike Richardson

    Well, at least it steered clear of land at its strongest. Something that powerful could have been a problem for Madagascar, but hopefully its human impact will be more like Patricia’s than Winston’s. I’m curious (and more than a little worried) to see whether or not these super storms in the Pacific and Indian Oceans continue, and whether we’re in for stronger hurricanes in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico as our storm season approaches.

  • Dan Jones

    Matthew 24 coming to life

    Always be a light that is .shininginthedark.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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