In March earlier this year, Mary Phiri, 40, was at her home in Chilobwe, southern Malawi, when she heard a peculiar rumbling sound in the distance. It got louder until, moments later, an avalanche of mud and rocks hurtled down the nearby Soche Mountain, sweeping away everything in its path. The surrounding area was soon hit by flash floods that washed away homes, bridges, and infrastructure. A nationwide blackout followed as over 200,000 hectares of cropland were ruined just days before they were about to be harvested.
For meteorologists, these impacts came as a shock but not a surprise. Weeks earlier in early-February, they had watched as a disturbance in the ocean near Australia developed into a full-blown cyclone as it crossed the Indian Ocean towards Africa. Due to climate change, storm systems have become more intense and prolonged.