Cyclone Freddy is expected to make landfall again in Mozambique later this week after it struck Madagascar for a second time on Monday.
It killed four people on the Indian Ocean island, bringing Freddy’s death toll to 21.
The storm first wreaked havoc in south-eastern Africa in late February and has displaced thousands in both countries.
It may become the longest-lasting storm on record as it has been spinning over the Indian Ocean for 32 days.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) says it is rare for a storm to make such a loop, describing it as a meteorologically “remarkable”.
The longest storm on record is Hurricane John, also known as Typhoon John, that lasted 31 days in 1994.
Given that Cyclone Freddy has periodically weakened over the last 32 days, the WMO says it will take several months to evaluate whether it has broken John’s record.
Freddy has already broken records for the strength it has accumulated and the 8,000-km (5,000-mile) path it travelled across the Indian Ocean.
The cyclone developed off the north Australian coast in early February and then travelled thousands of kilometres across the southern Indian Ocean, affecting Mauritius and La Réunion, before making landfalls in Madagascar two weeks later and then Mozambique.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), a US government agency, has tweeted a time lapse of Freddy’s movement across the Indian Ocean:
Freddy now holds the world record for “accumulated cyclone energy,” a metric to gauge a cyclone’s strength over time. pic.twitter.com/44xDlYaCrG
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) March 7, 2023
Mozambique is now bracing for a second landfall, whilst still reeling from the rains and floods brought by the storm.
According to the UN World Food Programme, more than 160,000 people have already been affected by Freddy.
Meanwhile, Madagascar received around three times its usual monthly average rainfall in the past week alone.