A remarkable storm named “Tropical Cyclone Freddy” has survived at least 15 days as it crossed from one side of the Indian Ocean to the other side (From east to west).

The record belongs to Tropical Cyclone Leon Eline in 2000 which lasted 29 days as it crossed the same ocean 23 years earlier.

After forming across open ocean off the north west coast of Australia, the storm tracked west then slightly west south west. Usually, such storms veer towards the south west then south towards colder ocean waters that are less than 27C. Such storms then weaken in intensity and eventually become embedded into the westerly air streams that lie further south.

This storm did not do that or follow the usual track.

The storm maintained a westerly then a west south west course for 15 days and even intensified to reach Category 4 on the Saffir Simpson Scale at times. It could almost be said that this storm maintained its strength at Category 4 for almost half of its life span across the open ocean.

The storm only weakened substantially once it made landfall just north of a town called Mananjary (Population 25,200 as at 2018) at 7.20 pm Tuesday 21 February 2023 (Local time) on the east coast of Madagascar. The storm had sustained winds of up to 130 km/h and gusts of up to 180 km/h at the core at landfall. This is the second tropical cyclone this season to strike Madagascar.

Tropical Cyclone Freddy February 2023
VIIRS Images (NOAA February 2023) showing Tropical Cyclone Freddy at Landfall along the east coast of Madagascar.

The CIMSS plot shows how remarkable this storm was.

The images from VIIRS on the NOAA Satellite shows the storm making landfall following its remarkable journey. The eye is exceptionally small at landfall.






Another feature was that the storm travelled more than 7,200 km prior to landfall. Further, the storm did not pass over any landmass until landfall although it did pass approximately 120 km north of Mauritius as it headed towards Madagascar. (UK Met Office 2023).

CIMSS Track of Tropical Cyclone Freddy February 2023
CIMSS Track of Tropical Cyclone Freddy showing its track crossing from east to west of the Indian Ocean - February 2023.

This proves that tropical cyclones given the right conditions can cross from one side of the Indian Ocean to the other side but such events are exceptionally rare. Generally, only 4 tropical cyclones have been documented to achieve this feat over recent decades.