Tropical Cyclone “Freddy” is delivering potentially catastrophic amounts of rainfall over the Quelimane region of Mozambique as the storm stalls just 30 km (18 miles) offshore with winds of 175 km/h (110 mph). Over the past couple of weeks, heavy rains and floods in Mozambique claimed the lives of at least 117 people.
- Freddy is now the longest-lasting cyclone ever recorded. As of March 10, it marks 33 days of lasting, since it was named on February 6 off the coast of north-western Australia.
Up to 700 mm (28 inches) of further rainfall is expected near the landfall zone, which was already inundated by Freddy’s first passage over a week ago. Widespread flooding is expected over the entire region of northern Mozambique, and into southern Malawi where over 200 mm (8 inches) are possible.
Impacts on inhabited lands during the next 72 hours are expected to be contained, but the slow movement of Tropical Cyclone “Freddy” will amplify its influence close to the landing zone in the province of Zambezia near Quelimane, according to RSMC La Reunion.
In Mozambique, storm-force winds are expected over the maritime fringe of Zambezia district, becoming more present on Sunday morning, March 12, with hurricane-force winds likely in the immediate vicinity of the landing zone.
The sea is also expected to be very rough (4 to 6 meters; 13 to 20 feet) and could become punctually high during the next night off Zambezia and Sofala regions. A surge estimated between 2 to 2.5 meters (6.5 to 8.2 feet) is possible near the landing zone at Quelimane, with the mouth of the river Eponym experiencing locally 3 to 3.5 meters (9.8 to 11.5 feet). Improvement is expected early next week.
Heavy rains are expected to continue in the Zambezia district with between 300 and 400 mm (11.8 to 15.7 inches) expected on the near coast and between 100 and 200 mm (3.9 to 7.9 inches) in the interior (Zambezia and northern Sofala districts) in the next 24 hours.
Within 72 hours, between 100 and 300 mm (3.9 to 11.8 inches) of rain could possibly spread over the two regions mentioned above with totals that could reach up to 500 mm (19.7 inches) locally, including over southern Malawi.
In the longer term, over the next week, the northwesterly flow driven by the near equatorial ridge should take the lead and favor a return of the system on the waters of the Mozambique channel.
Further impacts in Madagascar, southern Mozambique and South Africa cannot be ruled out.
Mozambique has been devastated by storms and floods in recent weeks, resulting in the loss of at least 117 lives, according to Prime Minister Adriano Maleiane. He gave a statement to the country’s parliament on Wednesday, March 8, revealing that around 272 000 people had been affected by the floods up to March 5. Cyclone Freddy was one of the primary causes of the damage, unleashing between 300 and 900 mm (11.8 – 35.4 inches) of rain in just 24 hours when it struck the southern provinces of Inhambane and Gaza in February.
The heavy rains have also caused the main rivers in Mozambique, including Limpopo, Incomati, Maputo, Pungoe, and Rovuma, to rise to flood alert levels, further compounding the situation.
According to the Prime Minister, around 50 000 homes have been destroyed or damaged, with 686 classrooms and 69 health units affected.
The storms also knocked down 194 electricity pylons, damaged 11 000 km (6 835 mi) of roads, and inundated 73 000 ha (180 278 acres) of crops.
Public Works Minister Carlos Mesquita provided further details of the damage, revealing that 265 aquaculture tanks, 86 fishing boats, and 1 747 fishing nets were destroyed. Farmers have lost 1 089 head of cattle and 31 378 chickens and other poultry.
1 Tropical Cyclone “Freddy” Warning Number 80/7/20222023 – RSMC La Reunion – March 11, 2023
2 Cyclone Freddy stalls on the coast of Mozambique – Force Thirteen – March 11, 2023
3 Mozambique: 117 Dead in Storms and Floods – all Africa – March 8, 2023
Featured image credit: Tropical Cyclone “Freddy” at 10:45 UTC on March 11, 2023. Credit: EUMETSAT/Meteosat-9, RAMMB/CIRA, The Watchers
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