MOMBASA, Kenya (AP) – A cyclone that is intensifying as it approaches the southeastern coast of Africa was labeled “hazardous” by the United Nations meteorological agency on Monday as nations prepare for landfall.
Cyclone Freddy is expected to make landfall in Madagascar on Tuesday night and head towards Mozambique by the end of the week. The tropical cyclone is equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane and is expected to bring heavy rain and turbulent winds.
A “significant deterioration in weather conditions” is underway, Meteo France’s multi-hazard early warning system predicted on Monday. The weather agency said the cyclone was passing about 100 kilometers (60 miles) away from Mauritius and Réunion on Monday, where strong winds and dangerous seas are expected.
The regional weather observation center on Reunion Island said Freddy is currently crossing the ocean with average wind speeds of 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour.
Up to 2.2 million people, mostly in Madagascar, are feared to be affected by storms and floods, according to the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System. The communes of Mahanoro, Mananjary and Nosy Varita, in western Madagascar, will be the first to be hit on Tuesday.
Mozambique is likely to be hit on Friday, according to the country’s national meteorology institute. The nation has already experienced widespread flooding in recent weeks, raising the UN aid agency’s fears that the “severe humanitarian situation in the region” could worsen.
About five other coastal nations – Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Eswatini and South Africa – are also vulnerable as Freddy looks set to cross the Mozambique Channel after Wednesday, according to the region’s climate services center. .
Last year, scientists were able to show that climate change made cyclones worse in southeastern Africa.already a hotspot for tropical storms and cyclones.
Over the past 12 months, the region has been significantly impacted by a series of cyclones and has experienced massive loss of life, property, displacement of large populations and costly damage to major infrastructure.
“It is hoped that accurate warnings and forecasts will help limit the damage from Tropical Cyclone Freddy,” said UN meteorological agency spokeswoman Clare Nullis.
First identified and named by a monitoring center in Melbourne, Australia, on February 6, Cyclone Freddy crossed the entire southern Indian Ocean.
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