BREATH-TAKING VISIBLE SATELLITE IMAGERY OF TROPICAL CYCLONE FANTALA! (credit: NOAA Science on a Sphere)
DISCUSSION: Over the past few days, a weak tropical low-pressure moving in a southwesterly direction across the Western Indian Ocean has rapidly strengthened into the most powerful tropical cyclone on-record across the Indian Ocean basin. At its peak intensity, Tropical Cyclone Fantala had maximum sustained winds of 173 MPH with higher gusts! Note the eyewall replacement cycles which occurred during the course of Fantala's period of maximum intensity. This is relatively common with tropical cyclones near the time of maximum intensity as various ambient atmospheric parameters induce slight fluctuations in storm intensity and satellite imagery appearance due to the expansion or contraction of the central dense overcast (the cirrus cloud shield which results from intense thunderstorms which wrap around the center of the tropical cyclone) as well as the aforementioned eyewall replacement cycles which often take place near the time of maximum intensity. Click here for more high-impact weather content across Africa!