Saturday, 23 January 2021

CYCLONE TO HIT MAT SOUTH

CONTINUOUS heavy and destructive rain is expected in Matabeleland South, Masvingo and Manicaland when Tropical Cyclone Eloise hits the country tomorrow.

The rains will be coupled with strong winds which could result in the collapse of buildings, trees and electricity infrastructure.

The phenomenon had previously been projected to be moderate before it intensified upon reaching the Mozambican Channel on Thursday. It further intensified yesterday into a cyclone and is expected to make landfall at Beira, Mozambique this morning.

It is expected to affect most countries in the Sadc region. Some parts of Matabeleland South, Masvingo, Midlands and Manicaland are expected to receive rains in excess of 100mm within 24 hours.

Moderate rains below 50mm are expected in the rest of the country. Yesterday, Government had started evacuating communities in Manicaland’s Chipinge and Chimanimani districts as they are at high risk of being flooded due to their low-lying nature.

Meteorological Service Department (MSD) head of forecast Mr James Ngoma said flooding remains a possibility in most parts of the country.

“The Met department has been tracking the movement of this tropical system from the time it was a tropical depression in the northeast of Madagascar and to the time it made landfall over Madagascar depositing about 100mm of rain within 24 hours of Madagascar. It has now moved into the Mozambican Channel and strengthened from a Moderate Tropical Storm to a Severe Tropical Storm still over the Mozambican channel waters. It is projected to be heading southwest and expected to make landfall near Beira early tomorrow,” said Mr Ngoma.

His department issued an updated statement last night saying the storm had strengthened into a cyclone but its trajectory in the country remained the same. The cloud band radius is estimated at around 500km.

Mr Ngoma said the country should have started feeling the impact of the phenomenon last night starting with light rains.

“As we get into this (last) evening we are expecting light rainfalls to begin over the eastern highlands and spread to the rest of the country as we get into the weekend. However, in terms of heavier downpours, we are projecting to experience them in the southern parts of Manicaland and in Masvingo Province as well as parts of Matabeleland South.

That is where we are expecting rains in excess of 50mm within 24 hours. Therefore, we are advising the general public to be aware of these heavy downpours,” he said.

“We also warn members of the public that even if the rains do not occur in their areas it could occur upstream therefore, the public is still advised not to cross flooded rivers and also there is a potential of strong winds and we advise that rooftops can be blown off and we advise that members of the public should try and secure rooftops as much as possible. Also, there might be trees that may fall, so it’s advisable not to be driving during this period.”

The MSD said it will continue providing updates on the developing weather system with 12 hours. On the other hand, Sadc warned that the cyclone is set to hit almost all the countries in the region.

 

Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa and, Botswana. Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Tanzania and Zambia are likely to experience increased rainfall due to other weather systems said Sadc.

It encouraged regional meteorological and hydrological services departments to closely monitor the weather system and update disaster response teams in order to protect lives and property.

Already, Government is on high alert and the Civil Protection Unit is ready to handle any rain-related disasters.

CPU director Mr Nathan Nkomo is on record saying the normal to above normal rainfall season that was projected at the start of 2020/21 rainy season foretold that the country could experience rain related disasters.

He said his department has been on high alert since the start of the rainy season to handle any eventualities.

Mr Nkomo said the downgraded Cyclone Chalane last month, allowed his department to improve on its preparedness after the cyclone did not hit the country as was expected.

In preparation of Cyclone Chalane, Treasury released $100 million to handle disaster that could culminate as a result of the weather event and the funds are still with CPU. Chronicle

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