Cyclone Freddy hits Mozambique and Madagascar Story-level
During its meandering path, Freddy’s maximum sustained wind speed has reached about 160 miles per hour, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, as these types of storms are known when they form in the Atlantic.
As Freddy continued to circle between Mozambique and Madagascar, the World Meteorological Organization, a United Nations agency, said it was on track to become the longest-lasting tropical cyclone on record. The organization has created a committee to assess whether Freddy has broken the previous mark, set by a tropical cyclone named John in the Pacific in 1994, taking into account changes in intensity of Freddy.
Scientists have discovered that climate change is making raging storms like Freddy’s more common. A little over a year ago, the same area was hit by cyclones Batsirai and Emnati, killing at least 120 people in Madagascar as the two storms swept past each other.
Mozambique was preparing Thursday for the return of Freddy. In addition to the 10 deaths in the country, around 9,900 people were displaced from their homes, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Villages in Mozambique were cut off by falling trees or flooding river banks when the storm raged, with some 28,300 houses destroyed. In hard-hit areas, such as the port city of Beira, people waded through waist-deep water to reach a third piece of land or help rescue efforts.
Mozambique authorities say they fear 1.75 million people could be affected by the cyclone when it returns, and aid agencies have urged people to stay in shelters for a few more days.
Freddy’s indirect impact has been felt across southern Africa, where summer rains have dried up as the cyclone sucks moisture from the Indian Ocean, said Venter, the meteorologist.
The trail of devastation also carries an increased risk of disease. Mozambique was already battling a cholera outbreak, with more than 7,500 cases reported. Flooding could destroy clinics and help spread the disease, the World Health Organization has warned in Africa.
judson jones contributed reporting from Atlanta.