Cyclone Kenneth: TMA fears vast destruction

25Apr 2019
Henry Mwangonde
DAR ES SALAAM
The Guardian
Cyclone Kenneth: TMA fears vast destruction

THE Tanzania Meteorological Authority (TMA) yesterday warned of looming floods, mudslides and destruction of property and crops in the southern regions of Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma due to heavy rains expected from a tropical cyclone forecast to hit today and tomorrow.

TMA acting director general Dr Pascal Waniha.

TMA acting director general Dr Pascal Waniha told reporters that the storm from the cyclone, named Kenneth, is expected to go as far as 500 kilometres from its landfall at the shoreline of southern Tanzania and northern Mozambique.

Dr Waniha said TMA forecasts show that Kenneth landfall is likely to happen around midday tomorrow. However, another forecast by American commercial weather forecaster AccuWeather Inc. released on Tuesday said that the cyclone was projected to hit by the end of yesterday before increasing in coverage and duration early today.

He cautioned residents in areas likely to be hit by the cyclone to take whatever precautions they can manage, as there will be high tides on territorial waters.

Dr Waniha explained that as of yesterday afternoon the cyclone was travelling at a speed of 600 kilometres per hour off the northern coast of Madagascar towards the continental shores.

“Satellite images show that the cyclone will be 150 kilometres in the sea early tomorrow, approaching at 150 kilometers per hour,” he stated.

 Dr Waniha, who is also TMA’s Director for Infrastructure and Technical Services said the last time Tanzania experienced a landfall caused by a hurricane was way back in 1952, with a severe impact.

Cyclone Kenneth is believed to have been strengthened on Tuesday, now being rated as a severe tropical storm ranked on level six out of ten.

Prior to reaching the eastern Africa coastline, Kenneth brought heavy rainfall to parts of Madagascar from Monday to Wednesday.

 “Areas near and just inland of this landfall location will be at risk of flooding rainfall, mudslides and damaging winds,” he elaborated.

Tropical cyclone Kenneth comes a month after Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe were hit by Cyclone Idai leaving a trail of destruction and over 1,000 people dead in the three countries.

In Mozambique, Cyclone Idai made a landfall on March 14 killing 602 people and leaving 1,641 injured. The storm similarly hit eastern Zimbabwe on March 16 where 344 people died and 200 others were left nursing injuries.

Rainfall amounts of 200-300 mm are possible from the time of landfall through Sunday, AccuWeather said, noting that this amount of rainfall can result in life-threatening flooding and lead to homes being inundated by floodwaters. There will also be an elevated risk for mudslides in areas of rugged terrain, the forecaster added.