Deadly Tropical Cyclone Idai Barrels Towards Mozambique

Tropical Cyclone Idai bore down on Mozambique’s coast as it prepared to make landfall for a second time since causing flooding in southern Africa last week that killed at least 60 people.

Idai is equivalent to a Category 3 storm on the Saffir–Simpson scale, packing wind gusts of up to 144 miles per hour, and is forecast to arrive onshore later on Thursday near the port city of Beira, Mozambique’s fourth-biggest metropolis. If it maintains that strength, it would be the worst storm in at least a decade to strike the country, according to Jennifer M. Fitchett, a senior lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Before forming a tropical cyclone on March 9, the system had dumped heavy rains over Mozambique and Malawi last week, displacing more than 100,000 people. The storm then moved back out to the southern Indian Ocean, where warm waters caused it to rapidly strengthen as it once again took aim at Mozambique’s coast.

The storm threatens to cause more fatalities and destruction in an area where 1.6 million people live, according to the United Nations. Flights have been canceled and people evacuated from the likely affected areas.

“Several experts predict that Cyclone Idai could be the strongest cyclone to make landfall in Mozambique since Tropical Cyclone Eline, which struck Mozambique in February 2000,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a statement.

After making landfall, Idai is likely to grind toward eastern Zimbabwe, where it may cause flooding in areas that have suffered from drought this year.

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Tropical Cyclone Idai Expected to Hit Mozambique as Strongest Storm in Decade