Cyclone Idai

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Cyclone Idai was one of the worst tropical cyclones to hit Mozambique / Southern Africa on record. On 9 March, a depression re-entered the Mozambique Channel and strengthened into Moderate Tropical Storm, named Idai (the tenth named storm). On 11 March the storm had sustained winds of 175 km/h. On 14 March, Idai reached its peak intensity, with maximum sustained winds of 195 km/h. On 15 March, Idai made landfall near Beira. On 16 March Idai weakened, while continuing inland for another day. It turned East on 17 March, and on 19 March, it moved into the Mozambique Channel again and dissipated on 21 March.

Ashore, the strong winds and severe flooding left more than 1 300 people dead, more missing, and affected more than 3 million others making it the second-deadliest tropical cyclone on record (after cyclone Flores of 1973 cyclone off the coast of Indonesia that killed 1,650). Catastrophic damage occurred in and around Beira in central Mozambique. After affects included a cholera outbreak with more than 4,000 confirmed cases and seven fatalities by 10 April. Damage is estimated at US$2.2 billion, including US$1 billion in infrastructure damages. Coming around harvest time, the storms also had a serious impact on food security for many.

Timeline, 2019

3 March – Tropical disturbance develops
5 March – Severe flooding caused by heavy rains across Malawi and Mozambique
9 March – Depression, Mozambique Channel
11 March – Moderate Tropical Storm/depression
14 March – Peak intensity
14 - 15 March – Landfall
19 March – Mozambique Channel
21 March – Dissipated
28 March – Mozambique government calls off search for survivors
2 April – Cholera outbreak 25 April – Cyclone Kenneth over Northern Mozambique.

Significant points

Second deadliest Tropical cyclone. Worst cyclone in Southern Africa on record



Mozambique suffered two landfalls from Idai. The first, when the storm was still a depression on 6 March and flooding caused 66 deaths in Niassa, Tete and Zambezia Provinces. 111 were injured, and homes, schools and hospitals were damaged. Floods also destroyed 168,000 hectares of crops.

The second landfall in Central Mozambique killed over 532 people from flooding and wind. In Beira, airborne debris caused numerous injuries. Destruction of homes and other buildings, damage to roads and bridges, and crop destruction brought the national total to 711,000 ha. An estimated 1.85 million people were affected by the cyclone.

In Beira, Idai produced a storm surge of 4.4 m. More than 500,000 people in the city, the majority of the population, lost power. Rainfall in the city exceeded 200 mm. The IFRC reported that 90% of the area in Beira was totally destroyed More than 600 mm fell near Chimoio. A tsunami-like wave of water devastated Nhamatanda, sweeping many people to their deaths and destroying the town. Days after landfall, the Buzi and Pungwe rivers in central Mozambique overflowed their banks. The city of Búzi continued to flood as of 20 March. Thousands of people remained trapped on rooftops four days after Idai made landfall.

Deaths – 602
Missing - Thousands
Injuries - 1641
Affected – 1 850 000
Damage – US$773 million.


Eastern Zimbabwe had heavy rains after the second landfall. Chimanimani District had the heaviest rains of 200 - 400 mm. Flash flooding resulted, and 169 people died in Chimanimani, and bodies were swept into Mozambique. 82 bodies confirmed buried 42 km inside Mozambique.

The Nyahonde River burst its banks. Water overflowed the Marowanyati Dam in Murambinda, along the Mwerahari River. Destruction of numerous bridges and roads in eastern Chimanimani isolated many communities.

Deaths - 634
Missing - 257
Injuries - 232
Affected – 270 000


After the first landfall, Idai brought heavy rains to southeastern Malawi. Widespread flooding began on 9 March, washing out bridges, roads, and destroying homes. Nsanje and Phalombe Districts were hardest hit. Approximately 1,400 homes were destroyed in Blantyre. Rising waters overwhelmed flood mitigating infrastructure, causing dams to collapse.

Two hydroelectric power plants along the Shire River suffered damage and were taken offline, rendering a loss of 270 MW of Malawi's 320 MW hydroelectric power capacity.

The second landfall, 15 March, caused further damage of the above nature.

Deaths - 60
Missing - 3
Injuries - 577
Affected – 922 900


While over the Mozambique Channel, Idai brought heavy rains to northwestern Madagascar, with localised accumulations of approximately 400 mm. Flooding and mudslides in Besalampy killed one person, left two missing, and affected 1,100 others, as well as damaging 137 homes.

Deaths - 1
Missing - 2
Injuries - 0
Affected - 1100

Further Reading

<Wikipedia="Cyclone Idai"> Cyclone Idai, Wikipedia, Retrieved: 18 October 2019</ref>


  1. 2019 Cyclone Idai: Facts, FAQs, and how to help, Worldvision, Published: 2019, Retrieved: 17 October 2019