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Cyclone Freddy hits Mozambique with ‘dangerous' rainfall

This image from Meteosat-9 satellite shows Tropical Cyclone Freddy, centre right, and Mozambique on Friday, Feb. 24, 2023 (NOAA via AP/AP)
Wanjohi Kabukuru, Associated Press

Tropical Cyclone Freddy dumped “dangerous and exceptional rainfall levels” over Mozambique on Friday as the long-lasting weather system continued to wreak havoc across southern Africa, the United Nations weather agency said.

Freddy made landfall in the coastal town of Vilanculos with wind speeds of 113 kilometers (70 miles) and is now classified as an “intense tropical cyclone” after picking up speed over the Mozambique channel.

The cyclone is projected to weaken as it barrels through southern Africa but still poses serious risk of heavy rainfall to the neighbouring nations of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia, Malawi and Botswana, according to the regional weather centre in Reunion.

“There is a potential risk that months’ worth of rainfall may fall in the space of a few days, causing widespread flooding in an area which already has saturated soils and high river basin levels from unusually heavy seasonal rains,” the UN weather agency warned in a statement.

Anne-Claire Fontan, a tropical cyclone scientist at the UN weather agency, said Mozambique is already reeling from floods and the cyclone will compound an already volatile scenario.

Freddy had waned slightly when it plowed through Madagascar on Tuesday night, killing at least four people and displacing more than 16,000, before regaining strength over the ocean on Wednesday night and on Thursday.

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