Forecasters in Mozambique kept a wary eye on Tropical Cyclone Funso as it made its way down an already drenched coast this week. The powerful storm is the first major cyclone of 2012. Funso reached the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane on January 25, with winds of 120 knots (220 kilometers/140 miles per hour). The storm is weakening as it moves south.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite acquired this image of Cyclone Funso on January 26 at 1:10 p.m. local time. The storm was somewhere between a Category 3 and Category 2 storm at the time, with winds between 100 and 95 knots (185–175 km/hr or 115–110 mph). The storm had a larger, looser eye than in previous days, but maintained a compact spiral shape.
Since forming on January 19, Funso has moved very little, its path looping before meandering slowly south over the Mozambique Channel. While the storm has not made landfall, its outer bands have been inundating Mozambique with heavy rain.
On January 28, the storm had continued to track slowly south eastward, but the eye wall was beginning to break down. At 2100 UTC, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported that the storm was currently under very strong (40-50 knot) westerly vertical wind shear, and that sea surface temperatures were at an unfavorable 24 degrees Celsius. Funso was expected to become extra-tropical by the morning of January 29.
Funso comes on the heels of Tropical Depression Dando, which came ashore over southern Mozambique on January 16. Together, the storms dropped 12–18 inches of rain on parts of Mozambique. As of January 25, flooding from both storms had caused 25 deaths, said IRIN, the news arm of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Sixteen of the deaths occurred in Zambezia, the province most affected by Funso to date.