Tropical Cyclone Hellen Over Madagascar

March 31, 2014; 12:12 PM ET
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Tropical Cyclone Hellen (21S) remains a strong cyclone near the northwest coast of Madagascar on Monday. Hellen will briefly move over northwest Madagascar before turning to the west and striking Mozambique as a much weaker tropical system later this week.

The combination of very warm waters and low wind shear allowed Hellen to rapidly intensify as it moved over the open waters of Mozambique Channel last week.

Hellen had winds of over 150 mph (130 knots), which is the equivalent of a very strong Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean over the weekend before weakening as it came onshore just west of Mahajanga on Monday.

Image of Tropical Cyclone Hellen as it moves over Madagascar Monday morning, EDT.

Through Monday morning, local time, Mahajanga had received more than 125 mm (5 inches) of rain along with winds of 65-80 kph (40-50 mph).

A ridge of high pressure will force Hellen towards mainland Africa before it makes a second landfall. The current interaction with land and the drier air associated with the ridge of high pressure should act to further weaken the system before it reaches the coast of Mozambique.

Even though Hellen will be dramatically weaker when it approaches Mozambique, locally heavy rainfall will still result in the threat for some flooding near the central coast.

Meteorologist Eric Leister contributed to this story.

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