Mozambique used to experience cyclones every decade or so, yet now in under a month in 2019, one of Southern Africa‘s biggest countries has been hit not once, but twice, as Cyclone Kenneth touched the mainland late Thursday, 26th April 2019. While some media outlets have since downgraded the cyclone to a tropical depression, as it quickly weakened, its effects in the form of enhanced rainfall, are expected to be felt over the next few days.
Only last month, Cyclone Idai wrecked havoc across Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi, killing close to one thousand people, and rendering millions homeless and in need of emergency medical attention, food and clean water.
Cyclone Kenneth was marked as a category four storm, the biggest ever recorded since recording began. It’s also the first cyclone to venture this close to the equator, with the effects expected to be felt as far as the most Southern parts of Tanzania. The Comoros Islands have been most affected up to this point.
The Kenya Meteorological Department released a statement alleviating fears that Cyclone Kenneth would reach Kenya’s borders, stating that it was against the laws of physics. The Met Department instead said there would be enhanced rainfall for a few days across Central, South and West Kenya.
Governments and humanitarian agencies were previously caught off guard by the scale and intensity of Idai, but have since sought to be more prepared and responsive.
“Our staff in Nampula province are currently hibernating to sit out the storm as it reaches its most dangerous point and as soon as it is safe to do so will be finding out what impact the cyclone has had. We are on standby to respond if needed,” World Vision Mozambique National Director, Wagner Herrman, said in a press release.
Who Names Tropical Storms?
Tropical storm names are maintained and updated by an international committee of the World Meteorological Organization. The original name lists featured only women’s names. In 1979, men’s names were introduced and they alternate with the women’s names, with six lists used in rotation – the 2015 list will be used again in 2021. As part of the SOuth West Indian Ocean circuit, Seychelles contributed the name Kenneth to this latest cyclone, while Zimbabwe was the original contributor of Idai.
The only time that there is a change in the list is if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of its name on a different storm would be inappropriate for reasons of sensitivity. Infamous storm names such as Haiyan (Philippines, 2013), Sandy (USA, 2012), Katrina (USA, 2005), Mitch (Honduras, 1998) and Tracy (Darwin, 1974) are examples of this.