Cyclone Kenneth

Cyclone Kenneth 1

Barely a month after super-storm Cyclone Idai slammed into Mozambique, having sadly taken lives, injuring others and leaving people displaced. The news of Cyclone Kenneth in Mozambique/ Tanzania was announced recently.

It was identified as a category three moderate tropical storm travelling at an estimated speed of 150km/hr. and was 450km away from Mtwara in Tanzania.

NASA’s Aqua satellite flew over Kenneth on April 23 at 6:41 a.m. EDT (1041 UTC).  Atmospheric Infrared Sounder(AIRS) detected strongest storms around the centre of circulation and in a band of thunderstorms southwest of the centre. Those areas revealed cloud top temperatures as cold as minus 63 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 53 degrees Celsius). Storms with cloud top temperatures that could extend high into the troposphere and have the capability to produce heavy rainfall. Infrared light provides scientists with temperature data and that is important when trying to understand how strong storms can be.

The higher the cloud tops, the colder and the stronger they are. So infrared light as that gathered by the AIRS instrument can identify the strongest sides of a tropical cyclone.

After Cyclone Idai, UN weather experts say it is unprecedented for two cyclones of such intensity to hit Mozambique in the same season.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) also said that no previous records show a cyclone striking the region as far north as Kenneth.

It said a fact-finding mission would examine the “impact of climate change and sea-level rise on Mozambique’s resilience” to extreme weather.

Amnesty International’s secretary general Kumi Naidoo said the two storms were “exactly what climate scientists warned would happen if we continue to warm our planet beyond its limits”.

“There is one inescapable and burning injustice we cannot stress enough,” he said, adding: “The people of Mozambique are paying the price for dangerous climate change when they have done next to nothing to cause this crisis.” (BBC NEWS, 2019)

There’s no single cause which results in a cyclone, but it’s a chain of events that finally end up as a Cyclone.

Let’s analyse those chain of events one by one:

  1. A large warm and still ocean area with temperature above 27ºC formed. Due to this, the air above this area gets heated and therefore it rises up.
  2. The risen air, would make vacancy of air in that region i.e. low pressure area.
  3. The air around rushes to fill that vacant area.
  4. The risen air would also carry a great amount moisture, i.e. the water evaporated and turned into vapour is also carried with air.
  5. This moist air on reaching some height, cools down, condensation happens and clouds are formed.
  6. The above said processes continues, and eventually the clouds became heavy.
  7. The resulting condensation would release latent heat, that would provide the cyclone with more energy. (Heat’s the water again)
  8. The wind that arrives from vast areas to this area of low pressure, would get deflected and eventually twists due to Coriolis effect.
  9. The cyclone is formed.

Due to the Coriolis effect, the rotation direction of cyclone is clockwise in the southern and anti-clockwise in the northern hemisphere. There’s an area in the middle of these twisting winds, called the eye of cyclone, the pressure there will be extremely low. The more the low-pressure in the eye, more speed the winds around have.

Cyclones are generally formed in the Tropical region, since this area has sufficient sunlight to heat the water.

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