25 April 2019

Southern Africa: Cyclone Kenneth Hits Mozambique After Battering Comoros

Photo: Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory image
On April 25, 2019, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASA’s Terra satellite acquired this natural-color image of Tropical Cyclone Kenneth just before landfall near the border of Mozambique and Tanzania. Around the time of the image, the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center estimated sustained winds of 120 knots (220km/h).

The powerful storm hit northern Mozambique, just six weeks after Cyclone Idai ravaged the country. Three have been killed in Comoros, with meteorologists calling it the strongest storm to make landfall in the area.

Cyclone Kenneth made landfall in northern Mozambique on Thursday, bringing gusting winds and putting the already storm-battered country on "red alert."

The cyclone made landfall with maximum sustained winds of up to 220 kilometers per hour (137 mph), the Joint Typhoon Warning Center said.

Meteorologists warned that the cyclone has the equivalent strength of a Category 4 hurricane, according to NOAA's Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies, which is tracking the storm. They added that "this is the first (and strongest) hurricane-strength storm" to hit the area.

The UN warned that the latest storm -- expected to dump heavy amounts of rain -- could cause flash flooding and landslides in Mozambique's far north.

Authorities have warned that several rivers, as well as coastal waterways, might overflow -- placing hundreds of thousands of people at risk of flooding.

The director of Mozambique's National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC), Augusta Maita, said evacuation orders were in force in the country's northern Cabo Delgado Province.

"All measures will be implemented to save lives," said Maita. "We will make sure that people are evacuated today, even if it means forced evacuation," she said.

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