The SA Weather Service has warned about possible heavy rains in the northeastern parts of the country from Sunday as a tropical cyclone is expected to land in the country.
The cyclone, named Eloise, started as a tropical storm in Madagascar and has continued to grow. It is now identified as a severe tropical storm and would have intensified to become a tropical cyclone when it hits SA on Sunday.
According to the weather service, the lowveld and northern parts of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and northern parts of KwaZulu-Natal may be affected by the heavy rains that may continue into Monday.
The weather service has issued a severe risk warning for disruptive rain associated with widespread flooding and flood-related damage to infrastructure including housing, roads and bridges in those areas.
“Although the heaviest rains are expected during Sunday and Monday, it must be noted there will be some rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, albeit much lighter, which can result in further flooding as the ground would already be saturated,” the weather service said.
The service said the severe tropical storm was currently located in the central part of the Mozambique Channel, moving at a moderate speed of approximately 22km/h. It had “intensified significantly” in the past 24 hours.
“During the next 24 hours, the system is expected to move closer to the coastal city of Beira in Mozambique. Eloise is expected to further intensify beyond its current status of ‘severe tropical storm’, reaching ‘tropical cyclone’ status tomorrow, ahead of landfall near Beira in the latter half of tomorrow,” the weather service said.
It said as a landfalling tropical cyclone, “very destructive” winds of 118km/h to 166km/h to affect the Beira area at landfall can be expected.
KwaZulu-Natal co-operative governance and traditional affairs MEC Sipho Hlomuka has placed disaster management teams on high alert as the inclement weather conditions pose a serious risk to human life.
“We are very concerned about the weather patterns that are developing. We are appealing to our communities to limit their movement as roads in these areas could be flooded. Our teams will be monitoring areas prone to floods,” said Hlomuka.
He warned residents in the uMkhanyakude, King Cetshwayo and Zululand districts that severe heavy rains were expected as a result of the tropical cyclone.
The weather service said winds in the region of 80km/h could develop, especially over northern Limpopo, on Sunday. It had, therefore, issued a level 4 yellow warning of a significant risk, particularly in areas which “rarely experience such winds”.
“Consequently, it can be expected that numerous trees could be toppled, while informal houses and structures may be damaged,” the weather service said.