Category 4 Funso kills 12 in Mozambique; deadly Alabama tornado rated an EF-3
Earth's first major tropical cyclone of 2012 is Tropical Cyclone Funso, a Category 4 storm with 135 mph winds located in the Mozambique Channel between Madagascar and Mozambique. Conditions for intensification have been favorable over the past few days, with light wind shear of 5 - 10 knots, water temperatures of 29°C, and a pocket of high oceanic heat content with warm waters extending to great depth located under the center of the storm. Funso is expected to intensify further and have sustained winds of 145 mph by Wednesday. Fortunately, the center of the storm is expected to remain offshore as the storm moves slowly southwards. The outer spiral bands of Funso have dumped torrential rains on Mozambique the past several days, triggering floods that have killed at least twelve people. The floods have swept across the main north-south highway in the country, cutting off the capital of Maputo from the north and center of the country. Flooding from Funso was made worse by the saturated soils left by Tropical Depression Dando, whose rains caused flooding that killed ten people in the country last week.
Figure 1. Image of Tropical Cyclone Funso taken by the MODIS instrument on NASA's Terra satellite on January 23, 2012. At the time, Funso was a Category 3 storm with 115 mph winds. Image credit: NASA/GSFC.
Yesterday's deadly Clay, Alabama tornado rated an EF-3
A damage survey by the NWS confirmed that the tornado that hit Clay, Alabama yesterday, killing two and injuring over 100, was a strong EF-3 tornado with 150 mph winds. A second EF-3 tornado with 140 mph winds touched down yesterday near Koffman, Alabama, and tore off the roof of a house and a barn. These are the only two EF-3 tornadoes of the year so far. There have been no EF-4 or EF-5 tornadoes yet. NOAA's Storm Prediction Center has placed portions of Southern Texas in their "Slight Risk" region for severe weather today, and portions of East Texas and Western Louisiana in the "Slight RIsk" region for Wednesday, and a few isolated tornadoes are possible in Texas and Louisiana over the next two days.