LOOK: Good news as Tropical Storm Freddy expected to weaken before reaching South Africa

A man walks as Cyclone Freddy makes landfall over Vilankulos, Mozambique, on Friday. UNICEF Mozambique/223/Alfredo Zuniga/via REUTERS

A man walks as Cyclone Freddy makes landfall over Vilankulos, Mozambique, on Friday. UNICEF Mozambique/223/Alfredo Zuniga/via REUTERS

Published Feb 24, 2023


South Africans living along the East Coast can breathe a bit easier as Tropical Storm Freddy is set to weaken significantly before reaching our borders.

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) said in a media release earlier on Friday that Freddy has moved briskly westward, across the southern part of the Mozambique Channel, towards the coastline of Mozambique and has steadily intensified throughout this period, drawing energy from the warm ocean surface.

The tropical storm has made landfall on the Mozambican coast on Friday afternoon with sustained winds in association with the “eye” of the system of the “order of 89 to 118 km/h, hence there is a high likelihood of wind damage to the built environment along the coast and adjacent interior of Mozambique as Freddy makes landfall”.

Despite Freddy being classified as a severe tropical storm before arriving on the Mozambican coast, SAWS expects this system is widely expected to begin weakening and decaying overland during the weekend, as it begins to dominate the atmospheric circulation of southern Mozambique, just eastwards of the Lowveld region of South Africa.

SAWS said that “the good news for South Africa is that the current consensus of a range of numerical weather prediction (NWP) models, is that Freddy will have very localised and limited impact upon South Africa in the days ahead”.

The only province where there is a significant risk of direct impact, in terms of heavy rain, flooding and/or wind damage, is the very eastern districts of Limpopo province, in particular, Vhembe as well as Mopani.

Graphic: South African Weather Service

The weather service has issued a level 5 Orange warning for these regions for the likelihood of moderate to significant flood impacts.

Adjacent to the Orange Level 5 warning area, the remainder of the Lowveld regions of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, as well as the escarpment region of Limpopo are included in a low-level warning, namely a Level 2 Yellow warning for heavy rain and/or localised flooding.

Graphic: South African Weather Service

The high levels of uncertainty surrounding the movement and intensity of such tropical systems, especially when they move overland, remain a challenge for forecasters worldwide.

In consultation with National and Provincial Disaster Management structures, SAWS said that it would continue to closely monitor developments on a 24/7 basis and would issue regular updates in this regard, across a variety of media and social media platforms.

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