Flooding in Mozambique as Tropical Cyclone Desmond makes landfall

By News24 22 January 2019
A derelict boat stands on the beach as young men play football on Tofo beach in Vilankulo, Mozambique, 02 October 2018 (issued 05 October 2018). The beach is a popular destination for tourists and sees many locals working to support the industry. EPA-EFE/YESHIEL PANCHIA

Mozambique's fourth largest city has been inundated by flooding after being hit by a tropical cyclone.

Tropical Cyclone Desmond formed in the Mozambique Channel on Sunday night and drifted slowly northwest towards the coast.

Fortunately the winds in the upper atmosphere were much stronger than those near the surface, which hampered the storm’s growth and prevented it from becoming too intense.

This ensured the winds weren’t too strong when the storm made landfall, but the rain was still extremely heavy and the seas very rough.

The storm hit the coast about 40km to the south of Chinde, 200km to the north of Beira, but the worst of the rain was to the west of the storm’s centre. Biera, the fourth largest city in Mozambique, was badly hit.

Some 277 millimetres of rain was reported in Biera in the 24 hours until 06:00GMT on Tuesday, more than the 250mm expected in the entire month of January. And the rain continues to fall.

Large waves smashed over the top of sea defences and the torrential rain transformed roads into rivers.

Cars were submerged up to their windows and dirty floodwater rushed into people’s homes and businesses.

The remnants of Tropical Cyclone Desmond are expected to bring more flooding to central Mozambique and southern Malawi as it disintegrates above the region. Over the next 24 hours, some places could see as much as 200mm more rain, and it looks like Madagascar could be hit by even worse conditions.

Tropical Cyclone Desmond didn’t hit Madagascar, but it did enhance the rains in the northwest of the island and there is more severe weather on its way.

Another circulation in the Mozambique Channel is expected to develop over the coming days. This system is expected to track south, off the coast of Madagascar, and is likely to pull a trail of heavy downpours across the northwest of the island.

This would bring further torrential rain to a region that is already waterlogged, which could easily lead to flooding and landslides. DM


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