Limpopo, Mpumalanga and South Africa’s north eastern regions should brace for further rainfall and high wind today as Cyclone Eloise veers west. Photo: SAWS Twitter
Limpopo, Mpumalanga and South Africa’s north eastern regions should brace for further rainfall and high wind today as Cyclone Eloise veers west. Photo: SAWS Twitter

Cyclone Eloise is changing course, leaving a trail of woes

By Edward West, Given Majola Time of article published Jan 25, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - LIMPOPO, Mpumalanga and South Africa’s north eastern regions should brace for further rainfall and high wind today as Cyclone Eloise veers west, the South African Weather Service said yesterday afternoon.

Eloise made landfall around 2.30am on Saturday in southern Mozambique, and then brought heavy rains and strong winds as it headed along the escarpment to the lowveld areas of Limpopo, Mpumalanga, as well as the northern sector of Limpopo.

The forecaster said rain of 50-128 millimetres was reported in these areas from 12am Saturday, many trees were uprooted, and there was damage to temporary structures while some roofs were blown off houses.

Strong surface winds circulating around the centre of Eloise resulted in south-easterly to easterly gale-force winds of around 80 km/h yesterday.

The forecaster expected cyclone Eloise to reach the south-western borders of Botswana by tomorrow, and to connect with a system from the Atlantic on Wednesday, which would again likely result in rainfall in the Northwest and northern Eastern Cape.

The cyclone has put South Africa’s transport and other utilities on alert for possible disruptions. Transnet’s port infrastructure and marine services operating division, the Transnet National Port Authority, put measures in place on Friday to ensure minimal disruption was experienced by the port users, should Eloise hit Durban.

The Port of Durban’s general manager, Moshe Motlohi, said terminal operators had been directed to have business continuity plans on standby for adverse weather conditions.

The National Ports Authority has an agreement with South African Weather Services on an early warning system to help manage risks of adverse weather conditions, he said. The South African Association of Ship Operators and Agents chief executive,

Peter Besnard, said that the harbour master had sent a warning to all lines and vessel agents warning them of the circumstances that could prevail.

“Before the storm reached our shores we were plagued by wind in literally all coastal ports for a number of days, impacting heavily on ship berthing , and port operations, and that coupled with labour issues from the Covid-19 pandemic and now the storm will surely add to the current woes being experienced,” said Besnard.

Eskom also put contingency plans in place on Friday, as most of its power stations are in Mpumalanga. Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said they had had no negative impact from the storm by yesterday mid-afternoon and also no impact on the Cahora Bassa transmission line infrastructure between South Africa and Mozambique, lines that had been reinforced a few years ago after similar storms.

Typically, heavy rainfall for four or less days does not pose a significant threat to power station operations, but continuous heavy rainfall for more than four days can hamper coal handling at the power stations and at the mines supplying them.

There were also some power stations in Mpumalanga that had been experiencing ash dam constraints and continuous heavy rainfall over these power stations could hamper operations and recovery efforts already under way.

Extra staff had been placed to attend to faults as they occurred.

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