Dear Tom,

Freddy has been traveling for a month across the ocean. Isn’t that unusual for a cyclone to last this long?

M. Young

Dear M. Young,

It’s very unusual, and in fact, Cyclone Freddy has likely set a new record for tropical cyclone longevity. As of March 8, the storm has persisted for 32 days. Cyclone Freddy has periodically weakened over that time frame, the World Meteorological Organization says it will take several months to evaluate whether it has officially broken John’s record. The cyclone developed off the north Australian coast in early February and then traveled thousands of miles across the southern Indian Ocean, affecting Mauritius and La Réunion, before making landfalls in Madagascar two weeks later and then Mozambique. Before Freddy, the honor for tropical cyclone longevity went to Hurricane/Typhoon John, that roamed the Pacific for 31 days in 1994. John formed off southern Mexico on Aug. 11 and strengthened to a 175 m.p.h. Category 5 storm on Aug. 23. Continuing west, it crossed the dateline on Aug. 28 and was reclassified as Typhoon John. Eleven days later, the storm, now moving eastbound, once again crossed the dateline and regained its hurricane title before it finally dissipated in the North Pacific on Sept. 11.