Tropical storm Eloise over the Mozambique channel on Friday morning.
Tropical storm Eloise over the Mozambique channel on Friday morning.

Cyclone Eloise storms in with gusting winds

By Tanya Waterworth, Reuters Time of article published Jan 23, 2021

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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal has been put on high alert as Cyclone Eloise was forecast to make landfall today, Saturday, in Mozambique, with heavy rainfall predicted for north-eastern parts of the province tomorrow, Sunday.

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.

Weather services have been tracking the storm's path this week as it moved across northern Madagascar and into the Mozambique channel, where it was expected to gather strength. Heavy rainfall is also expected in Limpopo and Mpumalanga with possible flooding.

Friday lunchtime, SA Weather Service (SAWS) forecaster, Julius Mahlangu said the north-eastern areas of the province would be affected by Eloise.

"A major impact is expected on Limpopo and Mpumalanga and it will extend into eSwatini and north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal.

“Rain in Durban will come from a high pressure system and is expected to start around midday (tomorrow) and will continue into Monday. The weather should start to clear late on Monday," he said.

Meanwhile eThekwini Municipality said their disaster management teams were monitoring the storm which could lead to localised flooding in low-lying areas.

Floods in Antalaha Madagascar after tropical storm Eloise hit the island. Picture: Red Cross of Madagascar

On Friday, City spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said that although the heavy downpours have been forecast for the northern areas of the province, "the city is not taking any chances“.

"As a result it has put its disaster management teams on high alert to be able to respond with speed when the need arises.

"eThekwini appeals to the public not to be alarmed, but to be vigilant as the city is prone to jaw-dropping calamities during the summer season," said Mayisela.

And for communities in northern Natal, KwaZulu-Natal MEC for co-operative governance and traditional affairs Sipho Hlomuka confirmed that disaster management teams for the Umkhanyakude district were also on high alert.

Yesterday, weather service Meteo France said that Eloise presented a serious threat to Mozambique's coastline over the weekend.

"Eloise is in fact expected to become a very dangerous cyclone (intense cyclone stage possible) with impacts that can be felt at a distance from the centre. A significant deterioration in the weather will set in from Friday and continue this weekend, with a landing scheduled for Saturday. Residents of the area are invited to immediately follow the instructions issued by the local authorities,” it warned.

Storm Report SA warned that when Eloise landed in Mozambique there would be a dangerous storm surge, heavy rainfull and wind gusts.

The NSRI also warned that heavy winds would be experienced, especially in the St Lucia area.

Meanwhile, also on Friday the DA's KZN MPL for co-operative governance and traditional affairs, Chris Pappas, warned that the province was ill-prepared for a natural disaster, after the DA received responses on parliamentary questions about disaster management in the province.

Pappas said the provincial disaster management centre was seriously understaffed, with 22 people employed and 19 vacancies. He highlighted that there were only 13 operational vehicles and only six specialised fire vehicles for the whole province.

"eThekwini Municipality raised concerns about serious delays in receiving payments from the provincial and national government in times of disaster… and forced to use their own budget to fund disaster response efforts while they waited for lengthy approval processes. This can sometimes take years," said Pappas.

He added: "Billions of rands have been allocated to disaster management over the years and more especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Serious questions must be raised about what has happened to lead to the severe shortages and deficiencies in the unit."

Independent on Saturday

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