A new tropical cyclone forming in the Indian Ocean looks set to strike the Comoros, Mozambique and Tanzania this week, just over a month after Cyclone Idai devastated parts of southeastern Africa. The storm, which the French meteorological agency calls Tropical Cyclone Kenneth, was about 200 kilometers north of Madagascar Tuesday and heading toward the Comoros islands.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center says by late today the tropical storm will have sustained winds of about 90 kilometers per hour, and gusts of up to 120 kilometers per hour. Both the U.S. and French warning centers forecast that the storm will pass over the Comoros tomorrow, with gusts nearing 150 kilometers per hour. By late Thursday it will be on the coast near the border of Mozambique and Tanzania, with gusts of wind topping 200 kilometers an hour. After it makes landfall, the storm is expected to weaken into a tropical depression on Friday, with wind speeds dropping below 75 kilometers an hour. Communities in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe are still rebuilding from the destruction left by Cyclone Idai in mid-March. More than 1,000 people died in the storm and the flooding that followed it.
Further strengthening is possible into Thursday as the storm approaches the southern coast of Tanzania and northern coast of Mozambique.
Downpours may reach coastal locations by the end of the day on Wednesday before increasing in coverage and duration Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
At this time, landfall of Kenneth could occur as early as midday Thursday near the border of Tanzania and Mozambique. If Kenneth tracks slower and has more time to strengthen, landfall may not occur until Thursday night.
Areas near and just inland of this landfall location will be at risk for flooding rainfall, mudslides and damaging winds.
Locations from Lindi, Tanzania; to Pemba, Mozambique; are most likely to experience the worst of this storm.
Cyclone Kenneth (formerly 24S) is intensifying as it passes to the south of the Seychelles, and is making for the Comoros islands further west. The storm could strike those areas, including the capital Moroni, as a Category 1 on the Saffir Simpson Scale, or possibly stronger if rapid intensification does take place. Later on, the storm is likely to threaten northern Mozambique, where rainfall totals may exceed 600mm late this week and over the weekend if early model indications are correct. With wind shear low, the storm could peak as a major cyclone at any point along its track prior to landfall, and is likely to stall over the northern part of Mozambique and southern Tanzania.