Sun, 26 May 2019

People in Mozambique should brace themselves as severe Tropical Storm Kenneth is about to make landfall.

The storm will impact on the northern Cabo Delgado province of the country and it packs a punch, says the South African Weather Service which has been monitoring the cyclone.

"It hasn't made landfall yet; it's almost there. From around 14:00 it will make landfall," SAWS forecaster Venetia Phakula told News24.

Another strong tropical storm heads for Mozambique... and it could be devastating

She said that the cyclone will have an impact on Thursday and Friday but begin to weaken by Saturday.

"The average max wind speed is 115 knots (213km/h)," said Phakula on Thursday.

"So far the accumulated rainfall for today is 90mm and for tomorrow to between 90mm and 100mm."

Brunt of the impact

The town of Mienguleia will likely bear the brunt of the impact when the storm hits and high volumes of rain will continue to fall even after the system weakens.

"There are areas that will get at least 100mm on Saturday and Sunday even though it's losing strength," said Phakula.

The cyclone is devastating news for the country which is still recovering after Tropical Cyclone Idai which hit near Beira in March.

Beira is around 1 000km south of Mienguleia.

At least 600 people died as a result of Idai in Mozambique, bringing the total to more than 1 000 in southern Africa.

Phakula said that Kenneth and Idai were similar storms, typical of the weather patterns in the region during this time of year.

"In terms in intensity they are almost the same, they are both classified as intense tropical cyclones. The difference is that Kenneth is affecting a smaller area whereas Idai affected a larger area."

In SA, mopping up operations are continuing following a cut-off low that resulted in at least 70 deaths, News24 reported.

But the devastation caused by a tropical cyclone can be much worse than a cut-off low, said Phakula.

"The total amount of rainfall that they had in KZN is almost as much as what Kenneth is expected to deliver in one day.

"Wind will increase the possibility of damages and lives lost," she added.

Unusual storms

Kenneth is the latest in a range of storms in the 2018/2019 season that included Idai, Dineo, Desmond and Eketsang.

SAWS forecaster Mbavhi Maliage told News24 on Wednesday that two major storm is such quick succession was unusual.

"It's not impossible but it's not a common occurrence for two tropical cyclones to hit so close together in one season."

Data from the UN World Meteorological Organisation showed that the cyclone was travelling at 8 knots (14.8km/h).

The UN humanitarian agency says the new cyclone threatens an area in northern Mozambique where residents are not used to such strong storms.

Phakula said the slower the cyclone travelled, the better.

"The faster it is, it increases the wind strength that we're worried about."

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