Weather experts on Monday warned of a tropical storm that is building up in the Indian Ocean and could make landfall in Madagascar at the weekend and proceed towards the Mozambique Channel early next week with a possibility of stretching into Zimbabwe’s Eastern province of Manicaland.
AccuWeather senior meteorologist Jason Nicholls said the ongoing heating of the water surface in the southwestern Indian Ocean is expected to result in a tropical storm forming during the course of this week.
“A tropical low located well southwest of Diego Garcia will continue to strengthen as it drifts westward over the next few days,” Nicholls said.
The tropical low is expected to further strengthen as it enters “an area of atmospheric conditions” before reaching Madagascar.
“Warm water and favourable atmospheric conditions are expected to allow this low to strengthen into Tropical Storm Chalane this week,” the weather forecaster said.
He warned that the storm would result in periods of heavy rainfall, gusty winds and rough seas in northern Madagascar and surrounding areas.
“The storm is expected to strike northeast Madagascar on Saturday and may eventually emerge over the Mozambique Channel early next week,” Nicholls said.
Rainfall of this magnitude is expected to result in flooding and increased of mudslides, the expert said.
Meanwhile, government has mobilised Civil Protection Unit (CPU) teams which are on high alert, especially in the eastern parts of the country.
The cyclone is expected to hit parts of Manicaland next week.
President Mnangagwa yesterday said the Government had already been proactive on the looming natural disaster.
He said CPU teams had been activated to manage the impact of the cyclone in the event that it hits eastern parts of the country next week as anticipated.
There were fears the cyclone could be destructive like Cyclone Idai which hit parts of Manicaland 21 months ago.
“We hear that a cyclone similar to Idai is building up in the ocean (Indian) and it can come here so we are warning our people especially in Manicaland that is areas like Chipinge and Chimanimani and surrounding places.”
“The cyclone can hit those areas next week so we are putting our CPU teams on alert so that if it happens, we will be ready and we can move our people to higher ground,” said the President.
He bemoaned the deadly effects of cyclones, saying Zimbabwe still had fresh memories of Cyclone Idai which killed thousands of people and left over 600 locals unaccounted for.
Idai ravaged infrastructure such as schools, clinics, roads and bridges and derailed Government’s plans to grow the economy as funds for key projects had to be diverted to mitigate effects of the disaster.
Few Indian Ocean cyclones get as far as Zimbabwe, but Chalane is on a course for Beira, so Zimbabwean officials are getting ready.
AccuWeather senior meteorologist Nicholls tweeted yesterday that the tropical cyclone may strike north-east Madagascar on Saturday or Sunday and possibly move towards Mozambique and Zimbabwe.