MIAMI -

It may not be hurricane season in the Atlantic right now but in the southern hemisphere the season is in full swing.  Tropical Cyclone Funso strengthened to an extremely dangerous Category 4 on Tuesday as it swirls off the coast of southern Africa between Mozambique and Madagascar.  (Remember the name “hurricane” is regionally specific to the Atlantic, NE Pacific Ocean and South Pacific Ocean.  The term “cyclone” is used in Southwest Pacific and Southeast Indian Ocean.) 

Highest sustained winds estimated by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center were above the 131-mph threshold for a Category 4 storm. 

Funso is an intense, slow-moving storm that has killed at least 12 people so far since forming off central Mozambique in the Mozambique Channel.  The storm continues to move over open water in the southern part of the Mozambique Channel drifting slightly southward. 

Zambezia, the most populated province of Mozambique has been hit the hardest.  High winds, torrential rain and rough surf pounded the area from Friday until Monday

The eye of Funso is located between southern Madagascar and Mozambique and about 450 miles northeast of Maputo. 

Official forecasts aim Funso southward, steering it well clear of both southeastern Africa and southwestern Madagascar during the next two to three days. 

Early last week, Tropical Depression Dando landed with flooding rain and damaging winds near the country's capital of Maputo.  At least 22 people were killed and thousands abandoned their homes fleeing for higher ground.