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Tropical Cyclone Kenneth seen as it approached landfall on April 25. Image: NASA

The toll from Cyclone Kenneth is beginning to emerge across northern Mozambique, one day after the Category 4 storm struck as an unprecedented event for this region, and one of the strongest cyclones to hit Africa since modern record-keeping began.

Why it matters: Mozambique is already reeling after a deadly hit from Cyclone Idai on March 14. That storm destroyed much of the city of Beira, and flooded such a vast area that it was described as having created a new "inland ocean." The international community still hasn't fully stepped up to respond to that crisis, and the UN is warning that Kenneth may necessitate "a major new humanitarian operation."

Details: Kenneth struck a more sparsely-populated region than Idai, coming ashore far enough north of the city of Pemba that damage in the city of 200,000 is not as extensive as feared, according to reports from the Red Cross. Mozambique's government is reporting several deaths and extensive wind damage in smaller towns, however, according to NBC News.

  • The storm is dumping up to 40 inches of rain in rural areas as it slows its forward speed to a crawl. Floodwaters could cut off small communities in Cabo Delgado Province, where the storm came ashore.
  • "While attention is often given to wind speed, we know from experience that it is rainfall — and subsequent flooding and landslides — that can be even more dangerous from a humanitarian perspective. This was certainly the case for Cyclone Idai," said Antonio Carabante, relief delegate with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in a statement.
  • "The terrain in many affected communities are precarious — many of these areas are prone to flooding and landslides in normal rainfall, and this is far from a normal situation."

The big picture: Mozambique has now been hit by two of its five-strongest tropical cyclones on record in less than two months, an unprecedented occurrence and one that is leading to a humanitarian crisis in this developing country.

  • Both Idai and Kenneth were aided by unusually mild sea surface temperatures off the coast of eastern Africa as well as conditions in the atmosphere that favored the formation and maintenance of such storms.
  • Kenneth underwent a rapid intensification process, jumping in intensity from a Category 1 to Category 4 storm in just 24 hours before it roared ashore.
  • Climate change studies show this trend may be tied to human-caused global warming, which is increasing ocean temperatures and adding moisture to the atmosphere — two key ingredients for tropical cyclones to develop.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Off the Rails

Episode 4: Trump turns on Barr

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photos: Drew Angerer, Pool/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. Axios takes you inside the collapse of a president with a special series.

Episode 4: Trump torches what is arguably the most consequential relationship in his Cabinet.

Attorney General Bill Barr stood behind a chair in the private dining room next to the Oval Office, looming over Donald Trump. The president sat at the head of the table. It was Dec. 1, nearly a month after the election, and Barr had some sharp advice to get off his chest. The president's theories about a stolen election, Barr told Trump, were "bullshit."

In photos: Protests outside fortified capitols draw only small groups

Armed members of the far-right extremist group the Boogaloo Bois near the Michigan Capitol Building in Lansing on Jan. 17. About 20 protesters showed up, AP notes. Photo: Seth Herald/AFP via Getty Images

Small groups of protesters gathered outside fortified statehouses across the U.S. over the weekend ahead of President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.

The big picture: Some protests attracted armed members of far-right extremist groups but there were no reports of clashes, as had been feared. The National Guard and law enforcement outnumbered demonstrators, as security was heightened around the U.S. to avoid a repeat of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots, per AP.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
9 hours ago - World

China's economy grows 6.5% in Q4 as country rebounds from coronavirus

A technician installs and checks service robots to be be used for food and medicine delivery in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China, on Sunday. Photo: Hu Xuejun/VCG via Getty Images

China's economy grew at a 6.5% pace in the final quarter of 2020, the national statistics bureau announced Monday local time, topping off a year in which it grew in three of four quarters and by 2.3% in total.

Why it matters: No other major economy managed positive growth in 2020. Although the COVID-19 pandemic was first detected in China, the country got the virus under control and became one of the main positive drivers of the global economy even as the rest of the world was largely under lockdown.