Tropical Cycling Freddy hits Mozambique for the second time

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MOMBASA, Kenya – Cyclone Freddy made a second landfall in Mozambique on Saturday night, lashing the southern African country with heavy rains and disrupting transport and telecommunications services.

French weather agency Météo-France warned of “damaging and destructive” winds and “dangerous seas and heavy rain” that could lead to landslides. He said Freddy will move further inland over the weekend, producing heavy rain in Mozambique and southern Malawi, with rain also likely in Zimbabwe and Zambia.

This is the second time Freddy has hit the country, with the cyclone making landfall at the end of last month.

Météo-France also raised concerns that it is unlikely that Freddy will weaken over land in the coming week and that it is very likely that he will go back to the sea. Freddy made landfall with maximum offshore winds measuring 155 kilometers (about 100 miles) per hour and average sea gusts of 220 kilometers (about 140 miles) per hour, the agency said.

Freddy was originally scheduled to make landfall in the country on Friday night but stalled over the Mozambique Channel. The cyclone then intensified on Saturday and regained strength as it made landfall, the National Meteorological Institute of Mozambique said.

The cyclone’s second punch is flooding low-lying, large land full of rivers and “almost all of them have dams” to reduce flooding, said Salomao Bandeira, a scientist at Universidade Eduardo Mondlane in Mozambique. Flooding in the country earlier this year hit areas where major rivers are controlled by dams, allowing some control, Bandeira said, raising fears that this blow could lead to more destruction.

The expected flooding is already worrying health and disaster agencies in both Mozambique and Malawi, which have been struggling with recent cases of cholera and other diseases carry with water. The disaster warning system led by the UN and the EU has already issued a red alert predicting that around 2.3 million people will be affected. Mozambique’s disaster institute has moved thousands of people to storm shelters in anticipation.

“More lives are being saved in Mozambique today” because of early preparation, Bandeira said.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Malawi Red Cross said it had activated its early response teams in southern Malawi to prepare for the cyclone.

Earlier this week, Freddy’s longevity and baffling tracks prompted the UN weather agency to set up a committee to determine whether it broke the record as the longest-lasting tropical cyclone in recorded history after for him to cross more than 8,000 kilometers (5,000 miles) in the southern Indian Ocean.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Freddy has already entered the records for the second-highest energy ever accumulated, or ACE, a measure of a cyclone’s energy over time.

Freddy is also the third storm on record to last more than 22 days, NOAA’s Carl Schreck said. Hurricane John in 1994 and an unnamed Atlantic hurricane in 1899 are the other two. A natural La Nina and negative Indian Ocean Dipole weather event, or temperature change over the ocean, “may have produced ocean temperatures and atmospheric circulation that made such an event more likely,” Schreck said.

Any storm that can stay at “such strong intensity for so long and make landfall is significant in terms of human impacts and in terms of science,” said Kristen Corbosiero, a professor of atmospheric and environmental sciences at the University at Albany.

“Intense storms usually go through a series of eyewall renewal cycles and intensity changes,” where the cyclone begins to develop a new eye, Corbosiero said. “But Freddy didn’t have those trips for most of his life. Trying to understand why will be a good research topic.”

Associate news science writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report from Washington, D.C. ___

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