Tropical Cyclone Idai Makes Landfall in Mozambique

Strong Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall in Mozambique very close to Beira on Thursday.  At 11:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Tropical Cyclone Idai was located at latitude 19.4°S and longitude 34.5°E which put it about 30 miles (50 km) northwest of Beira, Mozambique.  Idai was moving toward the west at 8 m.p.h. (13 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 105 m.p.h. (170 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 125 m.p.h. (205 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 958 mb.

The core of Tropical Cyclone Idai moved directly over Beira, Mozambique.  The eye moved over Beira.  The maximum sustained wind speed was 110 m.p.h. (175 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 130 m.p.h. (210 km/h) at the time of landfall.  Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out about 25 miles (40 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 150 miles from the center of Tropical Cyclone Idai.

The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Tropical Cyclone Idai was 19.2 at the time of landfall.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 13.8 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 33.0.  Tropical Cyclone Idai was capable of causing very serious wind damage.  Both sides of the eyewall which contained the strongest winds moved over Beira.  The relatively slow rate at which Idai was moving would have resulted in a prolonged period of strong winds, which would have increased the potential for damage.

Clockwise rotation around Tropical Cyclone Idai would have produced strong southerly winds when Idai approached Beira.  Those winds would have pushed water into the mouth of the Rio Pungoe which is on the western side of Beria.  There could have been an enhanced storm surge of 12 to 18 feet (4 to 6 meters) in that area.  Beira is one of the largest cities in Mozambique and it has a population of over half a million people.  Idai could have cause very serious damage around Beira.

Tropical Cyclone Idai will move toward the west-northwest during the next day or two.  On its anticipated track Idai will move farther inland over Mozambique and it will eventually move over Zimbabwe.  Tropical Cyclone Idai will weaken steadily as it moves inland, but it will drop heavy rain over central Mozambique and over parts of Zimbabwe.  The heavy rain could cause flooding along portions of Rio Pungoe and Rio Buzi as well as other parts of central Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

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