Tropical Cyclone “Idai” makes landfall near Beira, widespread damage, power and communication loss, Mozambique

Tropical Cyclone “Idai” made landfall at 23:30 UTC on March 14, 2019, close to the city of Beira (population 534 000), Mozambique as Intense Tropical Cyclone with wind speeds up to 170 km/h (104 mph) and central pressure of 960 hPa. The cyclone dropped heavy rain on the region, killed at least one person and injured five (preliminary reports). Idai became the deadliest weather disaster of the year anywhere in the world prior to landfall, with at least 122 people killed (66 in Mozambique and 56 in Malawi), thousands of homes destroyed and nearly 1 million affected.

At 00:00 UTC on March 15, Idai’s eye was almost totally over land, with Beira located in it, a dozen kilometers from the center, RSMC La Reunion said. The eyewall was expected to reach the city within several minutes.

First reports mention 500 000 residents of Beira, Mozambique’s fourth largest city, without electricity, severed communications and significant damage to the city, with makeshift roofs blown away and trees uprooted.

Mozambique’s National Institute of Disaster Management (INGC) said houses were destroyed and pylons downed in the city, adding that the coastal town of Chinde (400 km / 250 miles) NE of Beira was also badly hit.

In addition, nearby villages have been cut off from the mainland by 2 m (6.5 feet) tidal surge.

While INGC is yet to give an update on the situation, preliminary reports mention at least one person killed (a 3-year-old child) and at least 5 people seriously injured.

The INGC-led convoy is expected to arrive in Beira at around 20:00 local time (18:00 UTC). As the weather is getting better, the team will fly out drones for the initial assessment.

Tropical Cyclone “Idai” on March 15, 2019. Credit: NASA Terra/MODIS

At 12:00 UTC on March 15, Idai was an overland depression with maximum wind speed of 65 km/h (40 mph) and central pressure of 994 hPa.

“Over the past 6 hours, Ex-Idai has continued to move inland while rapidly weakening,” RSMC La Reunion said. “It should keep its WNW track and reach the border with Zimbabwe by the end of the afternoon. Even if the winds will decay significantly, the remains of the circulation are forecast to persist for several days, bringing heavy rains on Zimbabwe and the border area with Mozambique up to early next week.”

This was the last warning issued by the RSMC related to this system.

Note: This report will be updated when more information becomes available.

Featured image: Damage in the city of Beira, Mozambique after Tropical Cyclone “Idai” landfall. Credit: Anouk Delafortrie

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