Serious flooding strikes Mozambique after deadly Cyclone Kenneth's historic landfall
By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
April 28, 2019, 12:10:15 PM EDT
Five people are dead in northern Mozambique after Cyclone Kenneth made a historic landfall late on Thursday, and flooding rain is putting more lives and property in peril.
As feared by AccuWeather meteorologists, serious flooding has unfolded this weekend despite Kenneth rapidly losing wind intensity a few days ago.
"The coastal city and the capital of Cabo Delgado Province, Pemba, has been inundated by more than 430 mm (17 inches) of rain by Kenneth with the majority falling this weekend," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.
"Help us, we are losing everything!", the Associated Press (AP) quoted residents of Pemba shouting at passing cars amid the severe flooding.
Flood waters are rising rapidly as torrential rain pummel parts of Cabo Delgado, Mozambique following #CycloneKenneth.— IFRC Africa (@IFRCAfrica) April 28, 2019
Many more lives are now at risk.
📷@refugees / Luiz Godinho in Pemba pic.twitter.com/hF6YtLv6Jl
Flood waters are reportedly waist high in parts of Pemba, and homes are beginning to collapse amid the flooding in northern Mozambique.
Nearly 700,000 people may have been impacted by the cyclone, the AP reported the country's disaster management agency said, with many left exposed and hungry amid rising flood waters.
However, the agency commended advance notice of Kenneth in preventing an even more dire situation.
More than 35,000 homes in northernmost Cabo Delgado were partially or fully destroyed by Kenneth.
This figure includes about 90 percent of homes, which were mostly made of mud, in the main village on Ibo Island, Mozambique. Ibo is located near where Kenneth barreled onshore.
The death toll from Kenneth in Mozambique remained at 5 on Sunday.
One woman was killed by a falling tree in Pemba, according to the AP. Two other people were killed on Ibo Island. There are reports of a fatality in Macomia district, but details on the fifth death are currently unavailable.
A shocking aerial image following #CycloneKenneth in Macomia, Mozambique today.— IFRC Africa (@IFRCAfrica) April 27, 2019
Damages are severe, many homes and infrastructure are completely destroyed.
📷 @UNOCHA_ROSEA / Saviano Abreu pic.twitter.com/MDcQyjx08D
Prior to reaching Mozambique, Kenneth killed three people in the island nation of Comoros on Wednesday night.
Kenneth is the first tropical cyclone with the equivalent of hurricane strength to strike Mozambique's northern province of Cabo Delgado since modern record-keeping began 60 years ago.
According to the U.N., the strike by Kenneth marked the first time in recorded history that Mozambique has been hit by two powerful cyclones in the same season. Last month, the central part of the country was slammed by Cyclone Idai, which resulted in hundreds of fatalities.
The dangerous cyclone made landfall in Cabo Delgado, about 100 km (62 miles) north of Pemba, at the end of the day on Thursday, local time. Kenneth had 10-minute maximum sustained winds of 200 km/h (124 mph), the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific oceans, as it moved onshore.
Meteo France estimates a life-threatening storm surge of 3-5 meters (10-16 feet) occurred along the coast, just south of landfall. The NOAA-20 satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) captured an ominous nighttime image of Kenneth making its way inland over Mozambique and then Tanzania.
Red Cross teams in northern Mozambique reported serious damage in towns and communities that endured were struck by Kenneth on Thursday night.
Electricity was cut on Ibo Island, where many residents also lost cellphone service when the cyclone downed a tower.
There are also reports of "extensive damage" to homes in Quissanga, according to the AP. Four ships sank offshore of Palma, but everyone survived.
Significant power outages plagued Pemba, where winds gusted to 70 km/h (44 mph) before weather-recording instruments stopped reporting.
"Additional downpours into Monday can push the AccuWeather Local StormMax™ to 600 mm (24 inches) until Tropical Rainstorm Kenneth finally departs Cabo Delgado," Pydynowski said.
"That can make the flood disaster even more dire in the hardest-hit communities," she added. "Streams, rivers and coastal waterways can continue to overflow their banks and further put neighboring land and homes under water."
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More homes may succumb to the flooding. Boats and helicopters may need to be deployed to reach victims where flooding becomes too severe for vehicles.
Mudslides can be triggered and endanger those living on hillsides.
"A few thunderstorms can also rumble around Kenneth's center, which can further hinder rescue, recovery and storm cleanup efforts," Pydynowski said.
"Even after Kenneth departs, localized downpours can persist through the week," she added. "That can aggravate the flooding or delay the recession of the flood waters, as well as hinder rescue and recovery efforts."
Prior to Kenneth striking Mozambique, Reuters reports that around 30,000 people were evacuated to safer buildings such as schools.
The areas being affected by Kenneth were largely spared from any of former Tropical Cyclone Idai's destruction in March.
Many locations in central Mozambique, including Beira, suffered catastrophic damage. Residents are still trying to rebuild and recover from Tropical Cyclone Idai more than a month after the storm's landfall.
Kenneth first brought heavy rainfall to parts of Madagascar from Monday into Wednesday.
Locations from Ambanja and Antisiranana to Andapa and Antalaha had drenching downpours and localized flooding. Rainfall totals of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) were common with 300 mm (12 inches) reported in Sambava.
The cyclone then lashed the island nation of Comoros, killing three people. Several other people sustained injuries, according to Reuters.
Winds gusted to 120 km/h (75 mph) at the Hahaya International Airport on Wednesday night. Rainfall totaled 225 mm (8.86 inches).
Streets across the island were littered with downed trees and debris from homes. The roofs of some homes were also ripped off. Widespread power outages occurred in the capital of Moroni.
About 1,000 homes sustained flooding and key crops were destroyed.
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