Another cyclone, growing stronger, set to hit central Mozambique

A picture shows plants utility poles and electrical pylons in the flooded area outside the coastal city of Beira in central Mozambique on March 19, 2019, after the area was hit by the Cyclone Idai. - Rescue workers in Mozambique were racing against time to pluck people off trees and rooftops on March 19, after a monster storm reaped a feared harvest of more than 1,000 lives before smashing into Zimbabwe. Four days after Tropical Cyclone Idai made landfall, torrential rains and powerful winds, combined with flash floods that have swept away roads and bridges, inflicted further pain on the two impoverished countries. (Photo by ADRIEN BARBIER / AFP) (Photo credit should read ADRIEN BARBIER/AFP via Getty Images)

A powerful storm approaching Mozambique was upgraded on Friday to a tropical cyclone, on course to deluge an area already submerged by floodwaters and still recovering from Cyclone Idai less than two years ago.

FILE PHOTO:This satellite image of Idai was taken on Thursday, March 14, 2019, just prior to the intense tropical cyclone slamming into central Mozambique. (NASA/MODIS Satellite)

Cyclone Eloise, fuelled by the warm Indian Ocean waters of the Mozambique channel, gained tropical cyclone status with its strength equivalent to a category two storm, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), said.

It warned the storm would pummel central Mozambique with hurricane-force winds and heavy rains. It said gusts could reach between 150 kmh and 200 kmh near the point of impact.

It was expected to make landfall on Saturday around 0300 GMT near the port city of Beira, in a region that bore the brunt of the devastation from Cyclone Idai in March 2019.

That storm and deadly floodwaters that followed it killed more than 1,000 people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, displaced many magnitudes more and wiped out crops.

Some of the worst-hit areas then, such as Buzi district, outside of Beira, were already submerged by days of rains ahead of the cyclone’s arrival, with brown water consuming fields and running through village streets.

It used to be rare for cyclones and flash floods to batter this stretch of southeast African coastline, but they have become a regular occurrence. Storms have gotten stronger as waters have warmed due to climate change from greenhouse gas emissions, while rising sea levels have made low-lying coastlines vulnerable, experts say.