Another tropical storm is heading toward Mozambique, the southern African nation still reeling from the historic death and devastation wrought by Cyclone Idai.
The new storm, Tropical Cyclone Kenneth, strengthened rapidly Wednesday, with a wind speed of 140 kph (85 mph), and will continue to intensify as it moves over the Comoro Islands. It is expected to make landfall Thursday in the far north of Mozambique, about 1,000 km (620 miles) north of where Idai struck.
“Residents along the Mozambique/Tanzania border should make preparations for storm surge along the coasts, heavy rainfall, and hurricane-force winds,” NASA warned.
In Tanzania, Kenneth is expected to hit the coastal areas of Dar es Salaam, the port city of Tanga and Pemba Island, according to the Tanzania Meteorological Agency. Strong winds and rain may affect the Lake Victoria basin, its mountainous regions and the coast, forecasters said.
While the zone slammed by Idai will be spared, Kenneth still will strike Mozambique just one month after that storm killed more than 700 people and displaced tens of thousands. It caused an estimated $1 billion dollars in damage, or nearly 10% of the nation’s gross domestic product.
Kenneth formed this week in the southern Indian Ocean as a moderate tropical storm and moved north of Madagascar, with maximum winds on Tuesday of 65 kph (40 mph).
Kenneth should be less devastating than Idai
The storm could strengthen to the equivalent of a Category 3 hurricane, with winds up to 195 kph (120 mph). That would make it stronger than Idai was when it hit central Mozambique and could rank it among the strongest storms to ever hit the country.
However, Kenneth is not expected to have as devastating an impact on the country as Idai, which delivered heavy rains for days before and after making landfall on March 15, with winds near 175 kph (109 mph).
Idai’s sustained rainfall, combined with strong winds and storm surge, set the stage for catastrophic flooding that submerged towns and villages as the storm pushed inland toward Zimbabwe and Malawi.
Northern Mozambique also is not as populated as Beira, the population hub struck by Idai. Several rivers come together there and flow into the Mozambique Channel, a factor that made the region more vulnerable to flooding.
Moreover, the nation’s northern region has not seen intense rainfall in recent days, which hopefully will mitigate the impact of flooding compared with Idai.
Tropical Cyclone Leon-Eline remains the strongest cyclone to ever hit Mozambique. It ripped through the region in 2000, with winds stronger than 210 kph (130 mph) and killed about 800 people.