Madagascar Cyclone Bingiza
© Joint Typhoon Warning Center
Tropical Cyclone Bingiza east of northern Madagascar early on February 10, 2011
Tropical Cyclone Bingiza poses the threat of damaging wind and flooding rain to the southwestern Indian Ocean island of Madagascar.

Early Thursday morning, EST, the center of the new tropical cyclone lay about 580 miles, or 930 km, northeast of Antananarivo. Highest sustained winds were estimated by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center to be 45 knots, or almost 85 km/h. T.C. Bingiza was nearly stationary.

Forecasters at believe that T.C. Bingiza will strengthen and drift mostly southwestward over open water through at least Saturday. Thereafter, a landfall on eastern Madagascar could take place. Faster movement than anticipated would make the landfall threat earlier than currently forecast.

If Bingiza were to veer southeastward, on the other hand, it could ultimately threaten the Mascarene Islands of La Reunion and Mauritius. However, this scenario would take several days to unfold.

Tropical cyclone landfalls on the huge island of Madagascar happen almost yearly during the Southern Hemisphere cyclone season, which is most active in this area from January into April. When they do, severe flooding is the most widespread hazard, although devastating winds and storm tides can strike as well.