By Lydia Shekighenda
The Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) yesterday allayed fears of Tropical Cyclone Kenneth forecast to hit Tanzania’s southern regions near the border with Mozambique.
TMA and international weather bodies had indicated that the cyclone was likely to make landfall in northern Mozambique between Thursday evening and midday yesterday. But TMA Director General, Dr Agnes Kijazi, said yesterday that Cyclone Kenneth was overland northeast of Mozambique and was not expected to hit Tanzania as expected.
“The cyclone had changed its direction to further south towards the coast of Mozambique, which is experiencing its effects,” Ms Kijazi noted. “This has saved southern regions of Tanzania from the effects of Cyclone Kenneth.”
She explained that on April 24 and 25 the tropical cyclone continued building up fast as it was expected and its central pressure had reached 934hPa, but its strength started decreasing after landfall in Mozambique on April 25.
Dr Kijazi said that yesterday the cyclone was overland, northeast of Mozambique about 220km south of Mtwara Region and the speed of the wind was 70km per hour.
“This situation resulted in the change of the name from the tropical cyclone to overland depression (ex- Kenneth),” Dr Kijazi noted.
She said observation from Mtwara Meteorological Station showed during the presence of the tropical cyclone wind speed had reached 60km per hour and rainfall amount was 10.1mm and there were also overcast clouds over the southern coast for the entire period.
She said the overland tropical depression was expected to weaken more as it was moving southeast of Mozambique today in the afternoon. Dr Kijazi, however, noted that “although the tropical depression is overland over Mozambique and is not expected to hit Tanzania, still it is not far from the Tanzanian boarder, thus it would continue influencing weather patterns in the country.
She said TMA would continue monitoring the progress of the overland tropical depression and other weather systems over the southwest of the Indian Ocean and issue updates whenever appropriate.
TMA also advised all Tanzanians to utilise warnings and weather updates. She, however, cautioned that there were possibilities of the tropical depression to go back to the Indian Ocean.
“When the cyclone goes back to the ocean it becomes very strong, thus people should continue with their activities, while be updated with weather reports so that they can be informed of any changes.”
She commended all disaster management authorities for the cooperation they had shown since TMA forecast the cyclone, noting that Tanzania had strengthened its disaster management system.
Regional authorities in Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma on Thursday embarked on the evacuation of residents in disaster-prone areas and suspended government and public activities as precautions against tragedies likely to be caused by the impending Tropical Cyclone Kenneth.
Cyclones are usually accompanied by life-threatening effects such as floods caused by heavy rain, strong winds, destruction of infrastructure and crops as well as high tides in the ocean, thus making road, marine and air transport in affected areas difficult.
TMA had on Wednesday announced that the storm had been spotted in northwestern parts of Madagascar, about 600km from the coast of Mtwara Region and was travelling in a rotation at 160km per hour.
According to forecasts on Thursday afternoon, Cyclone Kenneth was expected to be 150km from Mtwara travelling at an estimated rotating speed of 170km per hour.
TMA explained that the landfall in Mozambique, about 200km from Mtwara and travelling at a speed of 100km per hour, could have its affects spread to Mtwara, Lindi and Ruvuma regions. The expected heavy rain, coupled with strong winds, are likely to also disrupt fishing and marine transport activities in Dar es Salaam, Coast, Tanga, Lindi, Mtwara, Unguja and Pemba.