Tropical Cyclone Idai Forms Over Mozambique Channel

Tropical Cyclone Idai formed over the Mozambique Channel on Saturday.  At 10:00 p.m. EST on Saturday the center of Tropical Cyclone Idai was located at latitude 17.2°S and longitude 42.5°E which put it about 135 miles (220 km) west-northwest of Maintirano, Madagascar.  Idai was moving toward the southeast at 6 m.p.h. (10 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 994 mb.

The circulation around Tropical Cyclone Idai organized quickly on Saturday.  The inner portion of a rainband wrapped around the eastern and southern sides of the center of circulation.   Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Tropical Cyclone Idai.  Storms near the core began to generate upper level divergence which pumped mass away from the tropical cyclone.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 100 miles (160 km) from the center of circulation.

Tropical Cyclone Idai will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next several days.  Idai will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  It will move through a region where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Tropical Cyclone Idai will continue to intensify and it could strengthen into the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon within 36 hours.  Once the inner core is fully organized, Idai could strengthen rapidly and it could intensify into the equivalent of a major hurricane.

Tropical Cyclone Idai will move around the eastern end of a subtropical ridge over southern Africa.  The ridge will steer Idai back toward the west.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Idai could approach the coast of Mozambique in about four days.  Idai could be the equivalent of a major hurricane by that time.