Southern Africa: Tropical Cyclone Freddy – Flash Update No. 1 (20 February 2023)



Intense Tropical Cyclone Freddy is projected to make landfall on the eastern coast of Madagascar—likely between Mahanoro and Manakara —on 21 February, after passing north of Mauritius and La Reunion on 20 February.

Cyclone Freddy is expected to bring devastating winds and a very dangerous sea state near the impact zone in Madagascar.

Cyclone Freddy is then projected to emerge in the Mozambican Channel and re-strengthen before landing in Mozambique and potentially reaching Zimbabwe.

Operational readiness activities are underway, led by the Governments.


Intense Tropical Cyclone Freddy passed about 140 km north-west of Mauritius on 20 February, bringing strong winds and dangerous sea conditions, according to Meteo France. The cyclone is expected to pass by La Reunion in the night of 20 February, where it could cause strong winds and dangerous seas.

Intense Tropical Cyclone Freddy is moving west-south-west and is expected to make landfall on the eastern coast of Madagascar, probably between Mahanoro and Manakara, on 21 February evening, likely at an intense stage. It is expected to cause locally devastating winds and a very dangerous sea state near the impact zone in Madagascar. It is currently powerful and compact, generating extreme winds near its centre but having a limited zone of influence, with few effects felt beyond 200 km from the centre.

In Madagascar, the regions of Atsinanana, Vatovavy and Fitovinany are under yellow alert (threat), while Analanjirofo, Atsimo Atsinanana, Alaotra, Analamanga, Itasy, Vakinankaratra, Amoron’i mania, Matsiatra Ambony, Ihorombe, Menabe, Beroroha, Ankazoabo, Sakaraha, Morombe and Toliara regions are under a green alert (warning), according to Meteo Madagascar. Areas near the projected landfall of Cyclone Freddy are still struggling to recover from the impacts of cyclones Batsirai and Emnati in 2022, which made landfall in near Mananjary city on 5 February and in Manakara town on 23 February 2022, respectively, and destroyed homes, infrastructure and crops, with 874,000 people still facing severe food insecurity in the Grand Sud-Est.

This will be the first cyclone, and the second tropical weather system, to hit Madagascar in the 2022-2023 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season. Tropical Storm Cheneso made landfall on 19 January 2023 and affected 90,870 people, including 33 people who died in 18 regions, according to Madagascar’s National Bureau of Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC).

After crossing Madagascar, cyclone Freddy could emerge in the Mozambican Channel and strengthen again before making landfall in Mozambique and potentially moving on to impact Zimbabwe, after decreasing in strength.

Over 3.3 million people in Madagascar (2.3 million), Mozambique (527,000) and Zimbabwe (531,000) could be impacted by wind speeds of 120km/hr during cyclone Freddy’s passage across the three countries, according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Automated Disaster Analysis and Mapping (ADAM).

Source: UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs