Mozambique: Why Cyclone Idai was so destructive

Source(s)
National Geographic Society

By Stephen Leahy

Cyclone Idai may have killed more than 1,000 people and left 400,000 homeless near the port city of Beira in the southeastern African nation of Mozambique. It may be the worst weather-related disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere, with 1.7 million people in the path of the cyclone in Mozambique and 920,000 affected in neighboring Malawi, U.N. officials told the BBC on Tuesday.

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A big u-turn

Mozambique averages about 1.5 tropical cyclones a year and, although rarely more powerful than Category 2, they can cause a lot of damage, said Corene Matyas, a tropical cyclone researcher at the University of Florida.

Flooding is the main problem affecting most people from the storms. With climate change the atmosphere now holds more moisture (because it’s warmer, on average), and that means there may be more water available for heavy rainfalls, Matyas said.

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The ongoing flooding in central Mozambique likely means that the major food-producing region of the north is cut off from the heavily populated south, where the capital city of Maputo is located, she said.

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