Cyclone Idai left death, destruction, and a sprawling inland sea in its wake.
The powerful tropical cyclone — which struck Mozambique last Thursday as the equivalent of a Category 2 or 3 hurricane with winds of around 100 mph — has left at least 150 dead and 600,000 in need of help in the flooded nation said the EU, though the Associated Press reports over 300 fatalities as of March 21 when accounting for deaths in neighboring Zimbabwe.
The cyclone’s widespread flooding — in part overshadowed by simultaneous and historic flooding in the Midwest — has left behind an inundated area some 200 square miles in size (518 square kilometers), with the inland sea reaching up to 15 miles wide, according to satellite images from the European Space Agency (ESA).
The destruction is particularly severe around Mozambique’s fourth largest city, Beira.
“The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous. It seems that 90 per cent of the area is completely destroyed,” said the Red Cross’s Jamie LeSueur, who is working in the region.
Though there’s little evidence showing that the planet is experiencing more cyclones and hurricanes, there is mounting evidence that illustrates these storms are growing stronger compared to storms in the 21st century.
What’s more, cyclones, like any big storm today, can now carry more water: The world has warmed by 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1 Celsius, over the last century, and for every 1 degree C of warming, the atmosphere holds seven percent more water.
Since the 1960s, only three tropical storms of category 3 or stronger have hit Mozambique, according to Weather.com.
When the total number of fatalities are confirmed and the great inland sea dissipates, Idai’s rampage may end up being the worst storm on record in the Southern Hemisphere, the EU noted.