A visible-light image of Tropical Cyclone Fantala collected at 1025Z (6:25 am EDT) on Monday, 18 April 2016, by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on board the Aqua satellite. The north tip of Madagascar can be seen at bottom. Photo: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team

By Bob Henson
18 April 2016 

(wunderground.com) – Fierce Tropical Cyclone Fantala stormed to Category 5 strength north of Madagascar over the weekend with an impressive burst of strengthening, making the cyclone the most powerful on record anywhere in the Indian Ocean. Fantala’s estimated peak sustained winds of 150 knots (173 mph), averaged over 1 minute by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, topped the previous record holders for the Southwest Indian Ocean (Tropical Cyclone Eunice, Feb-Mar 2015, peak 1-minute winds of 140 knots) and the North Indian Ocean (Super Cyclonic Storm Gonu, June 2007, peak 1-minute winds of 145 knots). Reliable satellite-based records for the Indian Ocean only go back to 1990, but Fantala’s power is still remarkable, and quite evident in satellite imagery.

Fierce Tropical Cyclone Fantala stormed to Category 5 strength north of Madagascar over the weekend with an impressive burst of strengthening, making the cyclone the most powerful on record anywhere in the Indian Ocean. Fantala’s estimated peak sustained winds of 150 knots (173 mph), averaged over 1 minute by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, topped the previous record holders for the Southwest Indian Ocean (Tropical Cyclone Eunice, Feb-Mar 2015, peak 1-minute winds of 140 knots) and the North Indian Ocean (Super Cyclonic Storm Gonu, June 2007, peak 1-minute winds of 145 knots). Reliable satellite-based records for the Indian Ocean only go back to 1990, but Fantala’s power is still remarkable, and quite evident in satellite imagery.

Many parts of the tropics have seen record-warm sea surface temperatures in 2015 and 2016, triggered by a strong El Niño on top of longer-term warming caused by human-produced greenhouse gases. These unusual readings have added fuel to the fire of tropical cyclone production. Along with Fantala’s record-setting performance in the Indian Ocean, two other ocean basins have seen their strongest cyclones on record in the past six months, as measured by 1-minute wind speeds confirmed in post-storm analyses. (Many agencies around the world calculate averages based on longer intervals, such as 10 minutes.)

Fierce Tropical Cyclone Fantala stormed to Category 5 strength north of Madagascar over the weekend with an impressive

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