Last October, Patricia came ashore in Mexico with the strongest hurricane winds ever recorded on Earth, at over 200 miles per hour. Then, this February, Winston broke the windspeed record for the southwest Pacific Ocean basin, when it devastated one of Fiji’s main islands with winds topping 180 miles per hour. On Monday, it was Fantala’s turn to break that record for the Indian Ocean basin, as it ominously churned just off Madagascar’s northern coast, sitting pretty at 175 miles per hour, according to the U.S. military’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
That makes Fantala equivalent to a category 5 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale used in the Atlantic basin. Reliable satellite-based records for the Indian Ocean only became available in 1990, but 2015 and 2016 have already yielded the first- and third-most powerful cyclones in 26 years of record-keeping. FULL REPORT