Category-4 equivalent Tropical Cyclone Felleng as of 1130 UTC Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. To the west lies Madagascar; Reunion and Mauritius to the southeast (lower right). Visible satellite image credit: Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
Tropical Cyclone Felleng has become the strongest cyclone of the South Indian 2012-2013 storm season and the strongest storm in this tropical cyclone region since last February.
Highest sustained winds rose to an estimated 115 knots, or about 215 km/h, as of 1200 UTC Wednesday, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) said.
The dangerous storm, equivalent to a Category-4 hurricane, was centered less than 400 miles northwest of Reunion and within 360 miles east-northeast of Antananarivo, Madagascar. Storm movement was towards the south-southwest 13 knots, or 24 km/h.
Official forecasts tracking Felleng have been consistent since the first of the week, inasmuch as they have shown the southward-veering cyclone tracking "safely" between Madagascar and Reunion before racing southward over open water.
Latest storm behavior and forecasts confirm earlier indications.
Nearest approach to eastern Madagascar will happen Thursday, whereas Friday will have the closest brush with Reunion.
Although only outer wind squalls will reach either land mass, torrential rains instigated by Felleng will hit parts of Madagascar, Reunion and Mauritius as late as Saturday.
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