Maputo, 8 Mar (AIM) – Mozambique’s National Meteorological Institute (INAM) has warned that Cyclone Freddy could make landfall on the Mozambican coast for the second time on Saturday.
The forecast is that the cyclone will hit the central province of Zambezia, in Pebane and Maganja da Costa districts, where heavy rainfall, of over 200 millimetres in 24 hours, is expected.
The storm could also bring rains of over 100 millimetres in 24 hours to much of Manica, Sofala and Tete provinces.
Freddy is already the longest lasting tropical storm on record. It was first detected on 6 February in the Indian Ocean, between western Australia and Indonesia.
Moving westwards, it hit Mauritius, crossed central Madagascar, and then made landfall on the southern Mozambican province of Inhambane on 24 February. Cyclones normally weaken over land, and Freddy was expected to dissipate as it moved towards the Zimbabwean border.
Unexpectedly, Freddy changed direction and re-entered the Mozambique Channel, posing a serious threat to shipping. It brushed the south-western coast of Madagascar, before turning northwards.
According to the US Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC), the cyclone is now on a north-westerly course that will bring it to the Zambezia coast by Friday night.
Its current wind speed is 100 knots (185 kilometres an hour), but this is expected to fall to 75 knots as it reaches Zambezia.
According to Agostinho Vilanculos, the head of the water resource department in the Ministry of Public Works, cited by the independent television station STV, Freddy could swell Zambezia’s rivers so that they burst their banks.
Most at risk is the Licungo basin. There are no dams or reservoirs on the Licungo, and so all the water from the cyclone will sweep downstream, threatening floods in Maganja da Costa district.
Two earlier storms, Ana and Gombe, had broken diques in the Licungo basin, and so people living in the basin are now completely unprotected. Vilanculos said that anyone living near the banks of the Licungo should be moved immediately to higher ground “to avoid the loss of human life”.
Vilanculos added that there were also high risks for the basins of the Chiure and Revobue, which are the two largest tributaries of the Zambezi.
He expected 650,000 people to suffer the impact of Freddy’s winds and rains.