Cyclone Simba
Category 5 tropical cyclone (FMC)
Gillian Mar 23 2014 0645Z
Simba during estimated peak intensity on June 10.
Formed June 5, 2020
Dissipated June 13, 2020
(Extratropical after June 12, 2020)
(Remnant low after June 13, 2020)
Highest winds 10-minute sustained: 270 km/h (165 mph)
3-minute sustained: 280 km/h (175 mph)
1-minute sustained:
190 mph (305 km/h)
Gusts: 350 km/h (220 mph)
Lowest pressure < 893 hPa (mbar); 26.37 inHg
(basin record)
Fatalities 9 (estimated)
Damage $523 million (2020 AOA)
Areas affected Angola, Namibia
Part of the 2020 South Atlantic cyclone season

Cyclone Simba was an extremely rare South Atlantic tropical cyclone that hit the eastern coast of Angola in 2020. It was the sixth depression, sixth storm, third cyclone and second major cyclone of the 2020 South Atlantic cyclone season. It currently is the second strongest cyclone ever recorded in the South Atlantic basin, only losing to Cyclone Jamba a few years later.

Meteorological history

On June 3, a well-defined area of low-pressure associated with a frontal system crossing the central South Atlantic began to merge around a steadily deepening core. It started moving south, while cloud padding began to improve. Eventually, on June 5, it took on a cyclonic form while thunderstorm cells began converging. With atmospheric conditions growing ever more favorable, the wave commenced consolidation, becoming the sixth depression of the season. Six further intensified into Tropical Storm Simba after aircraft detected gale-force winds in the storm's core, becoming the sixth named storm of the season.

The next day, as the storm continued to rapidly intensify, it slowly moved southwest, moving into record warm waters of 96° fahrenheit (36.5° celsius), as further ideal conditions plus warm waters fueled moisture inside the core, effectively building powerful storm cells as the eye-wall became increasingly well-defined. On June 8, due to Simba's rapidly-improving structure, the pace of the storm's intensification, and the discovery of an extremely small pinhole eye, it was upgraded into a 80 mph Category 1 tropical cyclone.


Simba's track, according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale.

As it moved into extremely hot waters of 102° fahrenheit (38.8° celsius), alongside sudden decrease in wind shear, Simba underwent explosive intensification and intensified into a Category 3 tropical cyclone, with 1-minute sustained winds at 110 knots (125 mph/201.1 km/h), and a minimal central pressure of 949 mbar (hPa). On June 9, Simba intensified into a Category 4 major hurricane, before hours later, due to several powerful bursts of convection, and the discovery of extremely powerful thunderstorms around the center, it was upgraded into a Category 5 tropical cyclone, the first documented in the basin's history. On June 10, Simba reached peak intensity with maximum sustained winds of 165.1 knots (1-minute sustained, 190 mph/305 km/h) and a minimum barometric pressure of 893 mbar (hPa; 26.37 inHg).

As Simba started to move closer near the Angolan coast, the government of Angola started airlifting supplies and resources into the city of Namibe, the most populated city in that region; mandatory evacuations began soon after, as red alerts were issued for the entire Angolan coast south of the capital, Luanda. On June 11, the last residents of Namibe and closer regions were evacuated and transported to refugee camps located near Luanda. Hours later, Simba made landfall on Namibe with estimated wind speeds of 147.7 knots (170 mph/273.5 km/h), causing severe coastal flooding and rip currents responsible for snapping boat moorings and capsizing small vessels. No deaths were recorded, as all citizens were successfully evacuated, although total damage on Namibe was "less intense than expected", forecasters said.

On the next day, Simba started to explosively weaken while moving inland over Namibian soil, and finished its extratropical transition when it moved back to the ocean. It dissipated completely due to the increasing output of shear and cooler waters on June 13.