Mozambique's fourth-largest city has been flooded after being hit by a tropical cyclone. Tropical Cyclone Desmond was formed in the Mozambique Channel on Sunday night and drifted slowly northwest towards the coast. Strong convective activity persisted for several days near Mozambique which was fed by the flow of monsoon that sinked deeply to the south of the Mozambique Channel. It made landfall in the province of Zambezia, near the border with the Sofala province. While there were no casualties in Mozambique, atleast 9 people were killed in Madagascar. The landfall took place just after 18:00 UTC, January 21, about 40 km S of Chinde and 200 km N of Beira, Mozambique with maximum sustained winds up to 65 km/h.
The winds in the upper atmosphere were much stronger than those near the surface which fortunately slowed down the storm's growth and prevented it from becoming too intense. Although the winds were not too strong when it made landfall, the rain was extremely heavy and the seas were very rough.
Some 277 millimetres of rain was reported in Beira in the 24 hours until 06:00 GMT on Tuesday, more than the 250mm expected for the whole month of January. According to Al Jazeera, 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 rainfall, and it looks like Madagascar could be hit by even worse conditions.
Tropical Cyclone Desmond did not hit Madagascar, but it did enhance the rains in the northwest of the island and more severe weather is expected as 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.
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© 2018 Oceanographer Daneeja Mawren