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Mozambique Braces for Tropical Cyclone Kenneth

Mozambique Braces for Tropical Cyclone Kenneth
Mozambique Braces for Tropical Cyclone Kenneth

Just five weeks after enduring the worst natural disaster in its recorded history, Mozambique is facing another serious storm threat.

In March 2019, Tropical Cyclone Idai brought two rounds of devastating rainfall, a 2.5-meter storm surge, and fierce winds, flooding large portions of Mozambique and causing landslides as far inland as Zimbabwe. An estimated 1,000 people died in eastern Africa from the storm, and the damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure was counted in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now Tropical Cyclone Kenneth is headed for a predicted landfall in northern Mozambique on April 25, 2019. The storm has rapidly intensified over the past two days, passing over the Comoro Islands as a category 1 storm on April 24. The U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center is predicting sustained winds of 100 knots (115 miles/185 kilometers per hour) just before landfall.

The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured these two images on April 24, 2019. The first was acquired around midnight local time with the VIIRS day-night band, while the second was acquired just after noon.

Forecasters fear another devastating blow for Mozambique, where much of the population lives near the coast. The storm is expected to slow down after landfall, and perhaps move back out to sea, which would amplify rainfall.

Jeff Masters of Weather Underground noted that the nation has never been hit by two category 2 or stronger storms in the same year. Several meteorologists also pointed out that storms do not usually hit this far north in Mozambique.

NASA Earth Observatory images by Joshua Stevens, using VIIRS data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership. Story by Mike Carlowicz.

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