Tropical Cyclone Bejisa is starting 2014 churning east of Madagascar and taking aim at the French island of Réunion.
Bejisa was the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean Thursday evening local time (Thursday morning EST) as it brushed the west coast of Réunion.
The warm waters of the Indian Ocean will allow Bejisa to maintain strength through the end of the week.
The dangerous cyclone will remain well east of Madagascar as it moves south but poses severe dangers to lives and property on the French island of Réunion.
High winds and torrential rain have already inundated the island. Saint-Denis, located on the northern part of the island has already been swamped with over 175 mm (7 inches) of rain and wind gusts near 100 km/hour (62 mph).
Réunion is home to more than 800,000 people, according to an estimate by the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies.
The AccuWeather.com Hurricane Center expects Bejisa to move slowly away from the island by Friday and then southwest, away from land.
Réunion's island neighbor of Mauritius will be subject to the cyclone's outer drenching rain bands and minimal tropical storm-force wind gusts.
Quieter weather conditions will return to the region by the weekend.
AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Dan DePodwin contributed to this story.
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