Mozambique is once again bracing itself for the impact of Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which is expected to bring intense rains and strong winds to the country. This is the second time in as many weeks that the southern African nation has been hit by the cyclone, which is one of the strongest storms ever recorded in the Southern hemisphere. The storm previously made landfall on February 6, causing extensive damage and leaving more than 171,000 people affected.
As of Saturday morning, Freddy was located 60 kilometers (40 miles) off the coast of Mozambique, according to the Mozambique National Meteorology Institute (INAM). The storm has slowed its advance towards the country, reducing its speed from seven to four kph. However, heavy rains and strong winds are already affecting the central provinces of Zambezia, Manica, and Sofala.
Residents in affected areas have taken precautionary measures, with many businesses and shops closed. The power utility has also switched off electricity as a safety measure, and all flights have been suspended. While there are no immediate reports of casualties, residents are reporting damage to homes and flooding in the streets.
The slow-moving nature of the storm means that it is likely to pick up more moisture off the sea, bringing heavy rainfall to affected areas. Climate experts have warned that climate change is making hurricanes wetter, windier, and stronger around the world. Oceans absorb much of the heat from greenhouse gas emissions, and when warm seawater evaporates, its heat energy is transferred to the atmosphere, fueling more destructive storms.
More than half a million people are at risk in Mozambique this time, particularly in Tete, Sofala, Nampula, and Zambezia provinces. Last month’s cyclone left 27 people dead so far – 10 in Mozambique and 17 in Madagascar – and caused extensive damage to crops and homes.
The World Meteorological Organization has noted that Tropical Cyclone Freddy has been swirling for 34 days straight, likely breaking the record for the longest-lasting tropical cyclone. The previous record was held by a 31-day hurricane in 1994.
Residents in affected areas are understandably scared and concerned about the potential impact of Tropical Cyclone Freddy. Vania Massingue, who works for a local environmental charity, described the scene in her town as “really scary,” with houses damaged and streets flooded. She reported that everything was closed and that residents were staying indoors to stay safe.
Authorities are urging residents to take all necessary precautions and prepare for potential flooding and damage. The government has set up emergency shelters and is working with aid organizations to provide assistance to those affected by the storm.
As climate change continues to fuel more destructive storms around the world, it is essential that governments and communities work together to prepare for these events and mitigate their impact. This includes investing in infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather events and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to slow the pace of climate change.