Cyclone Kenneth Strengthens as It Bears Down on Mozambique

(Bloomberg) -- Tropical Cyclone Kenneth continued to grow stronger as it swirled toward the coast of Mozambique, where Anadarko Petroleum Corp. has halted all flights to and from its liquefied natural gas site.

Mozambican authorities declared a “red alert” in Cabo Delgado province as they prepared to evacuate people from the northern region. Relief agencies in the country are already stretched as they deal with the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, which struck in March and killed more than 1,000 people in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

Kenneth’s top winds have reached 185 kilometers (115 miles) per hour in the one-minute average scale used by the U.S., making it a Category 3 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson measure, the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center said. It’s forecast to keep strengthening until it makes landfall later Thursday to the north of where Cyclone Idai struck.

Cyclone Kenneth Strengthens as It Bears Down on Mozambique

“The latest satellite and high-resolution weather models suggest a devastating impact from an intense tropical cyclone for northern Mozambique,” said Jim Rouiller, chief meteorologist at Energy Weather Group in Philadelphia.

Rouiller said Kenneth could become a Category 4 storm or stronger. The Indian Ocean in that area is quite warm, which will fuel the storm, and there is little wind shear so there are no barriers to keep it from growing.

Infrastructure Threatened

Anadarko is watching the storm closely and is prepared to offer assistance to local residents, the company said in a statement Wednesday. Winds in excess of 140 kilometers per hour could knock down trees and electricity pylons and blow roofs off houses, said Acacio Tembe, spokesman for the National Institute of Meteorology of Mozambique.

“We predict rainfall above 100 millimeters (4 inches) in 24 hours,” he said by phone. “Because of the effects of the winds, the structures of the gas-research companies are under threat” and infrastructure may be damaged, Tembe said.

Mozambique’s state airline canceled all flights to the northern town of Pemba near the border with Tanzania, where the authorities have also issued a weather warning. The lives of 692,000 people in Mozambique in Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces are at risk from the storm, according to the National Institute for Disaster Management.

Kenneth will likely linger over land, wringing itself out as it weakens and possibly dropping as much as 61 centimeters of rain, Jeff Masters, founder of Weather Underground, an IBM company, said in a blog post.

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