The storm had maximum sustained winds of 220 kph (140 mph) — the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane.
Kenneth comes a little more than a month after the country was dealt a devastating blow by the deadliest and costliest storm in its history — Tropical Cyclone Idai.
Kenneth is the strongest tropical cyclone to hit Mozambique in known history.
In addition to the dangerous winds and storm surge, Kenneth will bring torrential rainfall and significant flooding. More than 20 inches of rain is projected over the next four days — roughly four times the average monthly rainfall for the region.
Kenneth strengthened rapidly Wednesday and continued to intensify Thursday morning. Landfall was expected approximately 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) north of where Idai struck.
Local authorities in Tanzania advised residents to stay indoors in these areas for their safety.
Kenneth should be less devastating than Idai
Idai’s sustained rainfall, combined with strong winds and storm surge, set the stage for catastrophic flooding that submerged towns and villages as the storm pushed inland toward Zimbabwe and Malawi.
Northern Mozambique is not as populated as Beira, the population hub struck by Idai. Several rivers come together there and flow into the Mozambique Channel, a factor that made the region more vulnerable to flooding.
The nation’s northern region has not seen intense rainfall in recent days, which hopefully will mitigate the impact of flooding compared with Idai.
Tropical Cyclone Leon-Eline had been the strongest cyclone to ever hit Mozambique. It ripped through the region in 2000, with winds just over 210 kph (130 mph) and resulted in about 800 deaths.