The strongest cyclone ever to hit Mozambique has made landfall in the country’s north, five weeks after Cyclone Idai devastated its centre, according to meteorologists. Surpassing both Idai and the 2000 cyclone that had been the strongest to date, Cyclone Kenneth hit Cabo Delgado province with wind speeds of 140mph (225km/h), bringing the threat of extreme rainfall.
Some “precarious” houses had already collapsed and the provincial capital of Pemba has lost its power supply, local journalist Jonas Wazir told AFP.
Forecasters at Meteo-France warned that Kenneth could bring waves as much as five metres (16ft) higher than usual. Anabela Moreira, who owns a lodge on Wimby beach in the port town and provincial capital of Pemba, told AFP: “I’ve never seen anything like it in my 15 years in Pemba.”
After forming off Madagascar’s coast earlier this week, Kenneth passed to the north of the island nation of Comoros on Wednesday night, killing three people and causing widespread damage to homes and infrastructure.
The storm is expected to stall inland for several days and around one metre of rain is expected in the area north of the city of Pemba, more than the usual average for an entire year in the region.
“It’s really an anomaly in the history of cyclones in this region. There’s never been two storms this strong hit in the same year, let alone within five weeks of each other in Mozambique,” said Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist who has worked in east Africa and was watching the cyclone’s path closely.