Image produced by Hal Pierce (SSAI/NASA GSFC) and caption by Steve Lang
Gafilo struck the northeast coast of Madagascar early on the morning
of the 7th of March 2004 (LST) as a very powerful Category 5 cyclone
with winds estimated at 160 mph. So far, at least 25 people have
been reported dead on Madagascar not counting a further 111 feared
drowned on a ferry that was lost in the storm and reported to have
capsized in heavy seas by two survivors. After making landfall on the
northeast coast, Gafilo cut across the northern part of the island
moving southwest leaving as many as 100,000 people homeless in its
wake before re-emerging over the waters of the Mozambique Channel on
March 8th. Out over the channel, Gafilo recurved heading southeast.
It briefly regaining Category 1 strength over open waters. The storm
then made landfall again on the night of the 9th along the southwest
coast of Madagascar and crossed the island yet again, this time over
the southern part of the island. Gafilo is finally forecast to exit
the southeast coastline of Madagascar on the evening of the 11th
and head back out into the western Indian ocean as a weak tropical
The TRMM-based, near-real time Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis
(MPA) at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center monitors rainfall over
the global tropics. MPA rainfall totals are shown for the period 3-10
March 2004 for the area over and around Madagascar. Cyclone symbols
mark the 06Z positions of Gafilo along its path. As the storm
approaches Madagascar from the east, the heaviest rainfall totals, on
the order of 12 inches (orange-red areas), appear close to the center
of the storm track. As the systems crosses land, the higher totals
appear to the right of the storm track and are on the order of 15
inches of rain (red area) over the northern tip of Madagascar. The
heaviest totals of up to 20 inches (darkest reds) stretch from the
central Mozambique Channel eastward to along the northwest coastline
of Madagascar. These totals appear to be associated with an intense,
east-west oriented rainband that was observed by TRMM on March 8 (see
the previous story on Gafilo) well north of the storm's center.
Rainfall totals are significantly less though still on the order of
4 to 8 inches (green areas) over southern and central Madagascar.
TRMM is a joint mission between NASA and the Japanese space agency JAXA.
This image originally appeared on the Earth Observatory. Click here to view the full, original record.