Tropical Cyclone Fantala Stalls East of Madagascar

Tropical Cyclone Fantala moved into an area of weaker steering currents on Thursday and it stalled about 500 miles (800 km) east of northern Madagascar.  At 5:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Tropical Cyclone Fantala was located at latitude 13.0°S and longitude 56.7°E which put it about 515 miles (830 km) east of Antsirañana, Madagascar.  Fantala was moving toward the southeast at 5 m.p.h. (8 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 95 m.p.h. (155 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 115 m.p.h. (185 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 963 mb.

Although Fantala weakened slightly on Thursday, the structure of the inner core of the circulation remained fairly intact.  A thin ring of thunderstorms was wrapped around an that was obscured on conventional satellite imagery.  Other bands of thunderstorms spiraled around the eyewall.  The thunderstorms in the core of Fantala were generating upper level divergence to the north and east of the center of circulation.  It appears that drier air may be getting pulled into the eastern portion of the circulation outside the core of Fantala.  There only only isolated thunderstorms in the rainbands in that part of the circulation.

The environment is marginally favorable for intensification.  The upper level winds are light enough so there is only a moderate amount of vertical wind shear.  Fantala is over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C.  However, because Fantala is moving so slowly, it could mix cooler water to the surface which would reduce the energy available to the tropical cyclone.  In addition the drier air will also limit the supply of energy being transported into the core of the circulation.

Tropical Cyclone Fantala has moved into an area where the steering currents are weak.  It may not move much during the next 24 hours.  A subtropical ridge is forecast to develop southwest of Fantala in a day or two.  When the subtropical ridge develops, it is expected to steer Fantala back toward the west again.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Fantala could be approaching the northern part of Madagascar in 60 to 72 hours.