Record storm Freddy set to hit Mozambique again

MAPUTO, March 10 (Reuters) – Tropical Storm Freddy is expected to hit the coasts of southern Africa again early on Saturday, after killing at least 27 people in Mozambique and Madagascar since it first made landfall on Monday. last month.

One of the strongest storms on record in the southern hemisphere, Freddy may also have broken the record for longest-lasting tropical cyclone, according to the World Meteorological Organization, which said the current record is held by a 31-day hurricane in 1994.

Freddy was first nominated on February 6, 33 days ago.

More than 171,000 people have been affected after the cyclone swept through southern Mozambique two weeks ago, bringing heavy rains and floods that damaged crops and destroyed homes, according to the UN humanitarian agency OCHA. .

OCHA on Friday estimated Freddy’s latest death toll at 27, 10 in Mozambique and 17 in Madagascar.

Up to 565,000 people could be at risk in Mozambique this time around in the provinces of Zambezia, Tete, Sofala and Nampula, with Zambezia expected to be the hardest hit, according to the country’s national disaster management agency.

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Its central region director, Nelson Ludovico, said the agency was preparing for the storm’s arrival in the early hours of Saturday and had moved people to makeshift shelters.

“It is a slow moving cyclone. This is bad news in terms of rainfall because it means that it is hovering quite close to the coast and absorbing more moisture, so the rainfall will be heavier” , said Clare Nullis, spokeswoman for the World Meteorological Organization. (WMO), told reporters in Geneva.

The storm is likely to bring extreme rainfall to large parts of Mozambique as well as northeastern Zimbabwe, southeastern Zambia and Malawi, she said.

Around the world, climate change is making hurricanes wetter, windier and more intense, scientists say. The oceans absorb much of the heat from greenhouse gas emissions, and when warm seawater evaporates, its heat energy is transferred to the atmosphere, fueling stronger storms.

Freddy set a record for the highest accumulated hurricane energy, a measure of storm strength over time, of any Southern Hemisphere storm in history, according to the States National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. -United.

The storm alone generated about as much accumulated cyclonic energy as an average North Atlantic hurricane season, Nullis said.

“World record or not, Freddy will in any case remain an exceptional phenomenon for the history of the South-West Indian Ocean on many aspects: longevity, distance covered, remarkable maximum intensity, quantity of cyclonic energy accumulated, (and ) impact on inhabited lands,” said Sébastien Langlade, cyclonic forecaster at the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center in Reunion, in a WMO statement.

Reporting by Nellie Peyton in Johannesburg and Manuel Mucari in Maputo; Additional reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber in Geneva and Bhargav Acharya in Johannesburg; Editing by Alexander Winning, Angus MacSwan and Christina Fincher

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