At least four people in South Africa have died in the wake of tropical storm Eloise as it swept through the country, causing flash floods and heavy rain.
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said on Monday four people had died following heavy rain, including a five-year-old boy who was swept away by floods in Mpumalanga
and a 14-year-old who drowned in KwaZulu-Natal.
Connor Hartnady, from the department of emergency medical care at the University of Johannesburg, was in White River with Rescue SA to assist with search-and-rescue efforts.
He said that over the past two days, the team had assisted with the recovery of the body of a 35-year-old male who drowned in the swollen Blyde River.
“A one-year-old also drowned this morning when a mother and baby were swept away while crossing a flooded river in Elukwatini,” Hartnady said.
South African Weather Service (SAWS) forecaster Kgolofelo Mahlangu said more showers and thundershowers were expected in various places as the tropical storm, initially a cyclone, was in the west of the country.
“More showers are expected for Wednesday in parts of the country due to the high energy over the eastern parts of the
country, with rain expected over western parts of the North West, Free State and northeastern parts of the Eastern Cape and central parts.”
Mahlangu said that a tropical cyclone formed on the ocean in warm temperatures of between 26°C and 27°C.
“A cyclone requires open water and room to grow and gain energy and as soon as it develops it moves from the ocean to the west.”
Mahlangu said every summer and spring there were multiple cyclones South Africans were unaware of because they did not move into the country.
“The effect of a cyclone is a huge storm with heavy downpours of rain along with strong winds and flooding.
Regarding Eloise, he added: “The storm lost its intensity and strength as it moved in a western direction. We are out of the danger zone for now with normal thunderstorms on the cards.”
According to Mahlangu, no other tropical storms were forecast for the rest of the week.
Mitchell Krog, from AfriWX Weather, said another cyclone was possible as cyclone season usually ran from February into March.
“There is currently no immediate threat of a cyclone. There is, however, a cyclone forming in the Indian ocean, but it is closer to Australia and the Philippines,” Krog said.
However, it could still track to South Africa. “If it does it would only be here in eight to 10 days. But it still has to travel a long way.”
The cyclone currently has a wind speed of 35 knots and would only be named Fraija if it reached 55 knots.
“The thing with cyclones is that they change within days and can take a long time before they reach land.”
Transvaal Land Union chairman of water affairs Steven Vermaak said the Nyl River in Limpopo ran for the first time in 15 years.
“A farmer’s dam collapsed and burst after 180mm of rain fell on the mountain in Sterk River district in Potgietersrus.”
Vermaak said a dam that was empty at 8am on Monday was overflowing by 9.30am on the same day.
In a report released by AfriWX on 22 January, statistics indicated the Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng and Northern Cape had recorded higher rainfall than in the previous year.
Tshwane emergency services spokesman Charles Mabaso said EMS had responded to two vehicles stuck on the Vom Hagen/N4 in Pretoria West on Monday.
“The Irene bridge was also flooded. A house in Ramotse, Hammanskraal reported flooding but no damage,” Mabaso said.