Southern Africa: Tropical Cyclone Kenneth Flash Update No. 2 (25 April 2019)
• Tropical Cyclone Kenneth made landfall between the districts of Macomia and Mocimboa da Praia, in Cabo Delgado Province of Mozambique, on the evening of 25 April.
• Prior to making landfall in Mozambique, Tropical Cyclone Kenneth passed through the Comoros, hitting the northern Ngazidja Island and reportedly causing three deaths and extensive damage to houses.
• Humanitarian organisations have deployed teams in both locations to respond and carry out rapid assessments.
Tropical Cyclone Kenneth passed through the Comoros on 24 April, hitting the northern Ngazidja Island and reportedly causing three deaths, at least 20 injuries and extensive damage to houses across the archipelago. Preliminary estimates indicate that at least 1,000 people were displaced, most of them children. While assessments are ongoing, initial reports from the Comoros indicate that several villages were flooded due to sea surges and broken dykes, and that power was cut in multiple locations. Roads have reportedly been damaged and cut off by fallen trees, while telephone poles are down in multiple locations.
On the evening of 25 April, Tropical Cyclone Kenneth made landfall between the districts of Macomia and Mocimboa da Praia. Although preliminary information on impact is still incoming, the storm’s cyclonic winds were expected to reach 180 kilometres per hour prior to landfall, according to the Mozambique National Institute for Meteorology (INM). The Cyclone is forecasted to bring heavy rains, with over 500mm of rainfall expected from 24 to 30 April, and more than 750mm possible in some locations in Cabo Delgado. As the storm comes at the end of the rainy season, river levels are already high, and several rivers are projected to increase beyond the severe alert threshold after landfall, with peak flows most likely to occur on 29 April in the region around Pemba (Mozambique). There is a high risk of flash flooding and landslides.
This is the first time in recorded history that two strong tropical cyclones have hit Mozambique in the same season, with Tropical Cyclone Kenneth following on the heels of Tropical Cyclone Idai, which made landfall on 14 March, leaving more than 600 people dead and an estimated 1.85 million people in need in Mozambique alone. Tropical Cyclone Kenneth is expected to become only the third satellite-era system to evolve to a moderate tropical storm stage or higher in the area north of the Mozambique Channel, according to Meteo France. The other two systems concerned, Elinah in 1983 and Doloresse in 1996, did not reach the African coast. Tropical Cyclone Kenneth therefore threatens an area where the population is not used to cyclones.
Southern Tanzania and eastern Malawi are also expected to receive rains caused by the weather system. In Tanzania, an increase in cloud formation is already being witnessed, and an increase of rain is expected in Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Pemba, Lindi and Mtwara regions, the south coast of Tanzania and around Lake Victoria.
PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE
The Comoros has activated its National Contingency Plan with the establishment of a fixed command post within the General Directorate of Civil Security (DGSC). Ahead of the storm, people living in high risk areas were urged to evacuate to shelters in safe locations. Emergency stocks have been positioned for the health, education, nutrition and WASH sectors and the United Nations has deployed staff to support Government-led assessments.
In Mozambique, the Government and Red Cross volunteers alerted communities in areas where the concern of flooding, erosion and landslides was particularly high and at least 30,000 people were evacuated from areas at highest-risk, according to the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGC). Flights to Pemba have been suspended and schools have been closed in the cyclone’s path. Schools are also being prepared by the government to host people displaced by the storm. An INGC team, led by the Director-General, has deployed to Pemba, which humanitarian partners are supporting. A joint World Food Programme (WFP)/International Organisation for Migration (IOM) team is pre-positioned in the northern part of the province to support the response. Humanitarian organizations have pre-positioned supplies and have additional teams on stand-by to deploy to the area.
In Tanzania, the Government initially issued a warning saying people in the town of Mtwara should move to higher grounds. However, as the storm path shifted southwards, the warning was stood down, according to media reports.
In Malawi, the Government has issued a statement saying it expects enhanced rainfall throughout the country and in particular along the lakeshore.