Tropical Cyclone Belna Approaches Northwest Madagascar

Tropical Cyclone Belna approached northwest Madagascar on Sunday.  At 4:00 p.m. EST on Sunday the center of Tropical Cyclone Belna was located at latitude 13.3°S and longitude 46.2°E which put it about 170 miles (275 km) north of Mahajanga, Madagascar.  Belna was moving toward the southwest at 6 m.p.h. (10 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 105 m.p.h. (165 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 125 m.p.h. (200 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 965 mb.

Tropical Cyclone Belna strengthened into the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon during the weekend.  The inner end of a rain band wrapped most the way around the center of circulation.  The strongest winds were occurring in the part of the rainband wrapped around the center.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the center of Belna.  The circulation around Tropical Cyclone Belna was small.  Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out 25 miles (40 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out 70 miles (110 km) from the center.

Tropical Cyclone Belna will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 24 hours.  Belna will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 28°C.  It will move through a region where upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Tropical Cyclone Belna could strengthen if the inner core becomes better organized and a complete eyewall forms.  Belna will weaken once the center moves over land.  Since the circulation around Tropical Cyclone Belna is small, it will weaken fairly rapidly.

Tropical Cyclone Belna will move around the western end of a subtropical high pressure system over the South Indian Ocean.  The high will steer Belna toward the south-southwest during the next several days.  On its anticipated track the center of Tropical Cyclone Belna will make landfall on the northwest coast of Madagascar near Soalala in about 24 hours.  Belna will bring winds to near hurricane/typhoon force to locations near the coast.  Locally heavy rain will fall, especially in locations where the wind blows up the slopes of mountains.  Locally heavy rain coud cause flash floods in western Madagascar.