A palm tree facing severe winds. Picture: Supreg Suksai/Pexels
A palm tree facing severe winds. Picture: Supreg Suksai/Pexels

Tropical Storm Eloise triggers severe weather warning for South Africa

By Jehran Naidoo Time of article published Jan 19, 2021

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Weather experts in South Africa are bracing for heavy rains over the next few days should a tropical depression developing offshore Madagascar make its way towards Mozambique and other parts of south-eastern Africa.

The South African Weather Service says a tropical system called Eloise has developed over the north-eastern coast of Madagascar and is moving towards the Indian Ocean island.

It is expected to make landfall in Madagascar by Tuesday night before heading for Mozambique where it is seen bringing heavy rains by the weekend.

“It will be at this stage that Eloise will require close monitoring as it has potential to make landfall along the southern Mozambican coastline between Beira and Vilanculos during the coming weekend,” the SA Weather Service said.

The tropical system is forecast to bring large amounts of rain in parts of South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe unless it weakens along the way or changes course on the Indian Ocean.

This comes less than a month after Cyclone Chalane hit parts of Mozambique and Zimbabwe in December.

Due to the warm temperature of the Mozambican channel, the storm will intensify again and reach tropical cyclone strength before making its way to southern parts of Mozambique by Saturday or Sunday.

According to Wayne Venter, a forecaster from the SA Weather Service, warmer waters and latent heat help produce greater energy, which intensifies the storm.

Venter told the African News Agency on Tuesday that while it was still early to predict the exact trajectory of Eloise, residents in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces, as well as northern KwaZulu-Natal, should expect heavy rainfall over the weekend and early next week.

“At the moment it looks like it'll move into Mozambique and then move over land and then into the eastern parts of South Africa, but that is still a little bit uncertain,” Venter added.

The affected parts of South Africa can expect heavy rainfall, especially in the low, escarpment areas.

In the best case scenario, Venter said Eloise could result in heavy rainfall for the affected parts of South Africa.

The worst case scenario could result in a repetition of 1984’s Cyclone Demoina.

Demoina developed off the north-east coast of Madagascar and swept through parts of the island, claiming 42 lives and causing damage then worth around $25 million (about R370m).

In South Africa, rainfall peaked at 950mm and flooded 29 river basins. The rainfall also caused the Pongola River in northern KZN to alter its course.

In total, Demoina caused around $200m in damages and claimed 242 lives. | Agence de Presse Africaine and African News Agency (ANA)

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