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Cyclone Freddy unlikely to directly affect northern KwaZulu-Natal, says SA Weather Service

Current satellite image of cyclone Freddy

Current satellite image of cyclone Freddy February 21, 2023. Picture: SA Weather Service

Published Feb 21, 2023


Durban - Cyclone Freddy, which could hit the Mozambique coast on Wednesday, is unlikely to affect northern KwaZulu-Natal which has already been battered by recent heavy rain and flooding.

This is according to SA Weather Service (Saws) forecaster Kevin Rae, who spoke to “The Mercury” on Tuesday.

Rae said at this early stage it seems unlikely that northern KZN would be directly affected by “Freddy”.

However, he said the latest track forecasts are suggesting that Freddy may impact directly on parts of Limpopo and Mpumalanga (especially the eastern half of each respective province) especially during Saturday, February 25.

“Eswatini as well as northern KZN may experience an indirect effect during the course of the coming weekend, being on the southern periphery of an extensive area of heavy rain over the lowveld and adjacent Escarpment areas.

“So, yes, northern KZN could possibly experience heavy rainfall at some stage this weekend, but the situation is very fluid, with a high level of uncertainty in the forecasts and a lot may change in the interim…,” said Rae.

According to a report Mauritius grounded flights and shut its stock exchange as the cyclone approached the island in the Indian Ocean on Monday.

An AFP and IANS report on IOL on Tuesday (today) said the Mozambican disaster relief department announced that Freddy could hit the Mozambican coast on Wednesday, affecting around 70 000 people in the provinces of Sofala, Zambezia and Inhambane.

According to president of the National Institute for Disaster Risk Management and Reduction (INGD) Luisa Meque, 15 places have already been identified to be used as accommodation centres for the victims, Xinhua news agency reported.

Most of these accommodation centres are schools where conditions have been created to shelter those affected, she said.

The weather system will influence the Mozambican central provinces of Zambezia, Sofala, and the southern province of Inhambane, with rains and strong winds accompanied by severe thunderstorms, said Meque.

The report said the tropical cyclone weakened slightly after brushing Mauritius with powerful winds and heavy rain.

On Monday the Weather Service reported that “Freddy” is a relatively compact, but nevertheless intense system, with a central pressure estimated to be 939 hPa and average winds of approximately 200 km/h.

“Maximum wind gusts in association with this system are however likely to be significantly stronger, estimated to be about 285 km/h. Interestingly, given the compact structure of “Freddy”, the most extreme winds will only be experienced within a 200km radius of the system,”said Saws.

Meanwhile, the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs(Cogta), said Disaster Management Teams are responding to damage caused by strong winds.

MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi said teams responded to several incidents following the severe thunderstorms that struck parts of the districts of Ugu, Harry Gwala, and Umgungundlovu on the evening of Monday February 20, 2022.

“Reports received indicate that strong winds caused severe damage to houses and

infrastructure including roads and electricity. Roads were also blocked by fallen trees,” she said.

The MEC appealed to residents to be vigilant as inclement weather conditions are expected to continue in large parts of the province.

She said a warning has been issued for damaging waves along the KZN Coast

“The South African Weather Service has issued a warning for waves as high as 4 to 6 metres for areas that are along the coast. Communities located along the coast are urged to be vigilant during this time.

“Disaster management teams are on the ground to assess the extent of damages and will also continue to assist affected communities,”said Sithole-Moloi.