Cape Town - The South African Weather Service (SAWS) has advised that the country is in no immediate danger from tropical cyclone Batsirai currently affecting the southern Indian Ocean.
Batsirai is the second named system of the 2021/2022 season for the South-West Indian Ocean domain.
The SAWS said Batsirai had sustained winds of about 140 km/h and was moving slowly south west at 18.5 km/h.
The latest track forecast issued by RSMC La Reunion, responsible for the issuing advisories and tracking of tropical cyclones in the south west Indian Ocean, suggests that Batsirai should pass north of Mauritius and Reunion over the next few days. Rain bands around the periphery of the cyclone may affect these islands.
SAWS said Madagascar was likely to be affected by the tropical cyclone.
“It seems highly likely that the eastern coastline of Madagascar (particularly the central part of the coast) will bear the brunt of strong, damaging winds and torrential rainfall, as Batsirai makes landfall at some stage in the latter half of Saturday, February 5,” the weather service’s Kevin Rae said.
“Very rough seas, combined with storm surge, tend to be more extreme on the southern (poleward) side of tropical storms in this region of the world. Moreover, the steep, rugged topography of the mountains extending along the eastern coastline of Madagascar, will no doubt, exacerbate the risk of orographically-induced rainfall as well as flash-floods and mudslides.”
Rae said the movement of tropical cyclones could be extremely erratic and challenging to predict with any accuracy, and it was difficult to speculate about the future movement of Batsirai in the time scale beyond the coming weekend.
“Meteorologists are, however, confident that Batsirai will weaken temporarily once it makes landfall over Madagascar. It is also probable that Batsirai will re-invigorate as it enters the ocean environment of the Mozambique Channel, early next week,” he added.
While significant advances in numeric weather prediction (NWP) and supercomputing have been made, it is not yet possible to accurately determine whether the tropical cyclone will eventually affect South Africa, either directly or indirectly.
SAWS said the latest forecast from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts provided a good idea of the most likely path Batsirai would take in the next five days.
“Suffice to say that, at least in the days ahead, there is no immediate weather-related threat for South Africa, in relation to this tropical cyclone,” Rae said.
“Be assured that SAWS will continue to closely monitor developments in this regard and will issue updates as and when necessary.”