Skip to content

Tropical Cyclone Cheneso Causes Deadly Flooding In Madagascar

For 10 days straight, Tropical Cyclone Cheneso pummeled Madagascar with devastating winds and catastrophic rain

Tropical Cyclone Cheneso blasted Madagascar with flooding rain and damaging winds for 10 straight days before it departed over the weekend, leaving at least 30 people dead, several more missing and causing significant damage.

The storm, which first strengthened into a tropical storm on Jan. 18, meandered in the waters near Madagascar for nearly two weeks, making two landfalls during that time. AccuWeather meteorologists first warned about the potential for the tropical system about two weeks in advance of its development.

“As Cheneso was making its first of two landfalls in northeastern Madagascar, near the town of Anthalaha on Jan. 19, it was a severe tropical storm with sustained winds in excess of 55 mph (89 km (292009.00 feets)/h),” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and Lead International Forecaster Jason Nicholls.

The cyclone then crossed the country and emerged into the waters of the Mozambique Channel.

The warm tropical waters of the channel allowed Cheneso to peak as a tropical cyclone Wednesday, Jan. 25, prior to making a second landfall Thursday, this time on the western coast of Madagascar. Authorities in the country confirmed wind gusts as high as 105 mph (170 km (557770.00 feets)/h), equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic or East Pacific ocean basins.

In its wake, Cheneso caused disastrous flooding across the island and killed at least 30 people. At least another 20 people were still missing as of Monday.

“For much of last week, Cheneso remained slow-moving along the southwestern coast of Madagascar, in the Mozambique Channel, allowing the storm to pound the island with heavy, tropical moisture for days,” explained Nicholls.

People walk on a flooded road in Antananarivo, Madagascar, on Jan. 25, 2023. The death toll has risen to at least 16 with 19 people still missing after the strong tropical storm Cheneso hit Madagascar. PHOTO BY SITRAKA RAJAONARISON/XINHUA/GETTY IMAGES

As the storm stalled and rapidly intensified in the Mozambique Channel, wave after wave of tropical rainfall got funneled into the island. Widespread rainfall amounts of 8-10 inches (200-250 mm (0.82 feets)) were observed across the country, including in the Boeny region which was one of the hardest hit. Some places even reported in excess of 12 inches (300 mm (0.98 feets)) of rain during the 10-day period.

Rising floodwaters led to flooded homes, impassable roadways and infrastructure damage, including collapsed bridges. Colonel Faly Aritiana, of the risk and disaster office, said there had been house collapses and landslides in which people have become trapped, according to the Associated Press.

Authorities have estimated that more than 37,000 people have lost their homes because of the cyclone, the AP reported.

Residents of the Belle Souvenir neighborhood try to resume their daily life in their house submerged by water in Sambava on Jan. 21, 2023, following the passage of cyclone Cheneso on Jan. 19, 2023. PHOTO BY ELIE SERGIO /AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Intermittent showers could continue to impact the country through the end of the week, AccuWeather forecasters say. Due to Madagascar’s tropical climate, downpours can be heavier in nature this time of year, which could continue to slow cleanup efforts in the coming days. On the other hand, AccuWeather forecasters do not expect any tropical cyclones to impact Madagascar through the first week of February.

The island of Madagascar is no stranger to tropical cyclones. While Cheneso was the first to impact the country so far in 2023, there have been three other named tropical storms or cyclones since the beginning of this tropical season, which began in September. In early 2022, the island was impacted by seven tropical storms and cyclones during the months of January and February alone.


Produced in association with AccuWeather.

Recommended from our partners