Madagascar is likely to be hit by a severe weather system a day after Christmas and it’s expected to affect Mozambique afterwards and possibly Zimbabwe.
The tropical depression is developing in the Indian Ocean, northeast of Mauritius and east of Madagascar. Zimbabwe’s Meteorological Services Department (MSD) forecast that it would continue southwestward and intensify in coming days. If it gets worse than a tropical storm it will be named Cyclone Chalane.
Jason Nicholls, international forecasting manager at AccuWeather, said the “storm can strike northern Madagascar late Saturday or Sunday before entering the Mozambique Channel early next week”.
Previous cyclones and tropical storms affecting Zimbabwe originated from the Mozambique Channel. Zimbabwe is therefore on high alert.
Speaking at a rally in Chivi, west of Masvingo, President Emmerson Mnangagwa told chiefs and traditional leaders to warn communities about the possibility of the storm hitting Zimbabwe.
Department of Civil Protection (DCP) director Nathan Nkomo said the emergency service subcommittee, including the military, police and weather experts, had already met.
“We have met to discuss possible scenarios but this is a natural phenomenon highly unpredictable so we are vigilant and monitoring the situation by the hour,” he said.
ReliefWeb said the storm could cause flooding, mudslides and damage due to heavy rainfall, gusting winds and rough seas.
“Early predictions indicate that the weather system could subsequently move towards central Mozambique, where Cyclone Idai hit nearly two years ago,” it said.
In Zimbabwe, the system could hit Chimanimani, a community still in distress from the effects of Cyclone Idai last year, which left at least 268 people dead and 300 people reported missing. Cyclone Idai affected 100,000 people in Zimbabwe, with infrastructure such as schools, homes, bridges and boreholes destroyed worth an estimated US$1bn.
Mozambique’s National Institute of Meteorology’s projections are that the weather system could reach the coast in that country on December 29 or 30, affecting Nampula, Zambezia and Sofala provinces.
In Madagascar, the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management is seeking to deploy a team to areas likely to be affected.