Major Tropical Cyclone Idai Nears Mozambique

Major Tropical Cyclone Idai neared the coast of Mozambique on Wednesday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday the center of Tropical Cyclone Idai was located at latitude 19.7°S and longitude 37.5°E which put it about 170 miles (275 km) east of Beira, Mozambique.  Idai was moving toward the west-southwest at 7 m.p.h. (11 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 120 m.p.h. (195 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 150 m.p.h. (240 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 949 mb.

Tropical Cyclone Idai strengthened back into the equivalent of a major hurricane after it completed an eyewall replacement cycle on Wednesday.  An eye with a diameter of 35 miles (55 km) appeared on satellite images after the remnants of the original inner eyewall weakened.  A ring of strong thunderstorms surrounded the large eye and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Several bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Tropical Cyclone Idai.  Storms near the core of Idai were generating strong upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the tropical cyclone.

The size of the circulation around Tropical Cyclone Idai increased during the eyewall replacement cycle.  Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out about 45 miles (75 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 155 miles (250 km from the center.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Tropical Cyclone Idai was 22.1.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 16.5 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 38.6.

Tropical Cyclone Idai will remain in an environment favorable for intensification until it reaches the coast of Mozambique.  Idai will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  It will move through an environment where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Idai could strengthen before it reaches the coast.

Tropical Cyclone Idai will move north of a subtropical ridge over southern Africa.  The ridge will steer Idai toward the west.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Idai will make landfall on the coast of Mozambique near Beira in less than 24 hours.  Idai will bring very strong winds and it will be capable of causing regional major damage.  Tropical Cyclone Idai will also drop heavy rain over parts of Mozambique and it will likely cause flooding in some locations.