Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cyclone Elita

Tropical cyclone Elita formed just off the west coast of the island of Madagascar in the Mozambique Channel on 26 January 2004 as a minimal tropical storm with winds estimated at around 40 mph by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. Elita then slowly meandered towards the northeast along the coastline of Madagascar before turning southeast and coming ashore on the 29th near the coastal town of Mahajanga on the northwestern coast of Madagascar. One person was reported killed by the storm and numerous houses and buildings were destroyed in the town.

Cyclone Elita was an unusual tropical cyclone that made landfall on Madagascar three times. Elita developed in the Mozambique Channel on January 24, 2004. It strengthened to become a tropical cyclone before striking northwestern Madagascar on January 28. Elita weakened to tropical depression status while crossing the island, and after exiting into the southwest Indian Ocean it turned to the west and moved ashore for a second time on January 31 in eastern Madagascar. After crossing the island, the cyclone intensified again after reaching the Mozambique Channel, and Elita turned to the southeast to make its final landfall on February 3 along southwestern Madagascar. Elita dropped heavy rainfall of over 200 mm (8 inches), which damaged or destroyed thousands of houses in Madagascar. Over 50,000 people were left homeless, primarily in Mahajanga and Toliara provinces. Flooding from the storm damaged or destroyed more than 450 km2 (170 sq mi) of agricultural land, including important crops for food. Across the island, the cyclone caused at least 33 deaths. Elsewhere, the cyclone brought rainfall and damage to Mozambique and Malawi, while its outer circulation produced rough seas and strong winds in Seychelles, Mauritius, and Réunion.

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