The South African Weather Service (SAWS) says cyclone Eloise will affect the north-eastern parts of KwaZulu-Natal from around midday Sunday.

It is currently located in the central part of the Mozambique Channel. The Weather Sevice has issued a warning for disruptive rainfall, possibly affecting communities and vegetation. Forecaster Julius Mahlangu says there is a 30 percent chance of showers in other areas in the province later today.

Mahlangu elaborates, “30% chance of showers and thunderstorms over the south western part but then tomorrow things change. That is when we are expecting the northeastern parts to be feeling the effect of cyclone Eloise. We are expecting quite heavy rainfall especially in the afternoon going into the evening which is where we also had alerts out for disruptive rainfall which might lead to widespread flooding.”

KZN government issues warnings to certain areas

Meanwhile, the KwaZulu-Natal Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department has advised communities in areas such as the Big Five-Hlabisa, Jozini, Mutubatuba, Umhlabuyalinga, Ulundi, uMlalazi and uPhongolo to be vigilant as the weather begins to change.

Disaster management teams are on high alert in the northern parts of the province ahead of its landfall from the central part of the Mozambique Channel. The Department’s spokesperson Senzelwe Mzila says severe rainfall will accompany the cyclone.

“MEC Sipho Hlomuka is urging communities not to cross flooded walkways, to limit their movement and those that reside in areas that are low lying to relocate and find safer shelter in high lying areas. The specific areas where severe rains are expected are The Big Five, Hlabisa, Jozini, Mtubatuba and uMhlabayalingana.”

Eloise gains cyclone status

Cyclone Eloise, fuelled by the warm Indian Ocean waters of the Mozambique Channel, gained tropical cyclone status with its strength equivalent to a category two storm, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), said on Friday.

It warned the storm would pummel central Mozambique with hurricane-force winds and heavy rains. It said gusts could reach between 150 kmh and 200 kmh near the point of impact.

Beira, Mozambique after cyclone Eloise made landfall:

Pics supplied by Tendai Chiwurunga, a teacher in Beira Mozambique

It was expected to make landfall on Saturday near the port city of Beira, in a region that bore the brunt of the devastation from Cyclone Idai in March 2019.

That storm and deadly floodwaters that followed it killed more than 1 000 people across Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, displaced many magnitudes more and wiped out crops.

Some of the worst-hit areas then, such as Buzi district, outside of Beira, were already submerged by days of rains ahead of the cyclone’s arrival, with brown water consuming fields and running through village streets.

From rare to regular

It used to be rare for cyclones and flash floods to batter this stretch of southeast African coastline, but they have become a regular occurrence. Storms have gotten stronger as waters have warmed due to climate change from greenhouse gas emissions, while rising sea levels have made low-lying coastlines vulnerable, experts say.

– Additional reporting by Reuters