AUSTIN (KXAN) — Tropical cyclone season in our part of the world typically starts in mid-May in the eastern Pacific Ocean and in June in the Atlantic Basin, which also includes the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico.

It’s different for Australia and the South Pacific, where their cyclone season runs from November to April. We really don’t hear a great deal about the cyclone season there. That is, until now.
Meet Cyclone Freddy. This storm has moved across the southern Indian Ocean since February 4. What’s significant about this particular cyclone? It now owns the record for being the longest-living cyclone ever.

The previous record holder occurred in the summer of 1994. Hurricane John, also known as Typhoon John, lasted 30 days. It was formed on August 11, 1994. The storm peaked on August 23 when winds reached up to 175 mph. It dissipated on September 13. The Hawaiian Islands and Alaska were among the places this storm affected.

Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, in late January, was looking at an area of low pressure caught up in a monsoon trough in the Indian Ocean northwest of Australia. A monsoon trough is an area of low pressure along the Intertropical Convergence Zone that causes an increase in precipitation over land.

Cyclone Freddy is the longest-living cyclone in history

By Feb. 4, the Bureau detected a disturbance north-northwest of Broome in Western Australia. This was the day of Freddy’s formation. Two days later, with winds reaching between 39 and 55 mph, the storm was given its name.

There are times when refer to weather whiplash or roller coaster temperatures in discussing our weather. That’s what’s happened with Freddy during its lifecycle, not with temperatures but with the wind. It has weakened and strengthened seven times since its formation, the first cyclone to do this in the Southern hemisphere. The former record is three. The strongest winds, to date, have been 165 miles on February 19.

Cyclone Freddy also now has the record for the all-time highest Accumulated Cyclone Energy. This is a measurement of the energy released by a tropical cyclone during its lifetime. The calculation factors wind speed in knots, and it is taken four times daily. Freddy has an ACE index of 84. The former record is 82 from Hurricane Ioke in 2006.

As earlier stated, Cyclone Freddy has traversed the entire southern Indian Ocean since early February. It made its first landfall near Mananjary, Madagascar, on February 21. It weakened over land as all tropical cyclones do, but once it moved back over the water, it got stronger.

The first of two strikes by Cyclone Freddy at Mozambique

Mozambique has borne the brunt of Cyclone Freddy. The South African national has been struck two times—the first on February 24. It moved back over the water, where it meandered for a few weeks.

It came back to strike again Saturday, March 11, with winds up to 100 mph and sea gusts clocked up to 140 mph, according to the French weather agency. This second strike resulted in a fatality. The storm surge was predicted to be anywhere from seven to 11 feet in an area where much of the elevation is under six feet.

Cyclone Freddy makes a second landfall at Mozambique

Freddy is the fourth system to move east to west across the southern Indian Ocean. The others were Cyclone Litanne in 1994 and Cyclone Leon-Eline and Cyclone Hudah in 2000.

The Sunday morning forecast shows weakening now that it is over land. Winds are predicted to continue dropping down to near 35 mph by Monday evening.