Asanda Matlhare
Intern Journalist
3 minute read
25 Jan 2021
5:06 am

Tropical storm Eloise: South Africa gears up for big rains

Asanda Matlhare

Beira experienced massive damage on Saturday, with flooding, winds of 109km/h, damage to roads and bridges, flooding rivers and damage to power lines.

Parts of Beira flooded as a result of Cyclone Eloise. Picture: Twitter

As rain continued to drench parts of the province and winds began gusting, the Gauteng Disaster Management Centre has activated contingency measures for the tropical storm Eloise, which moved into South Africa yesterday.

Eloise weakened into an overland depression yesterday, with winds of 55km/h. However, in the port city of Beira the damage was extensive, with dw.com reporting “several deaths”.

Beira experienced massive damage on Saturday, with flooding, winds of 109km/h, damage to roads and bridges, flooding rivers and damage to power lines.

“The water level there is currently very high because tropical storm Chalane had already caused heavy rainfall at the beginning of the year,” dw.com reported.

Dr Elias Sithole, head of the provincial disaster management team (PDMC), said the team included firefighters and the SA Police Services.

“The storm has already affected Zonde district in Limpopo and some parts of Mpumalanga, but those provinces for now are able to cope,” said Sithole.

The South African Weather Service (Saws) cautioned residents in some parts of the country yesterday about expected heavy rainfall and strong winds due to the storm landing as a tropical cyclone.

Forecaster Edward Engelbert said the overland depression Eloise was situated over the northern parts of Limpopo as of yesterday morning and was expected to move towards southern Botswana from later in the day and into today.

ALSO READ: Effects of tropical storm Eloise to bring cooler weather in Gauteng

Heavy rain is expected over the eastern parts of Limpopo today. Rainfall of about 102mm is expected there, he said. Engelbert added two level nine warnings had been issued in different provinces.

“We have a level nine warning out for heavy rain that would lead to flooding over the eastern parts of Limpopo, especially the lowveld areas.

“We also have a level nine alert out in Mpumalanga because the heavy rainfall can cause damage
to informal settlements and community power lines being cut off and this is in effect [today and tomorrow].”

The forecaster added that the storm had caused widespread flooding around the area where the tropical cyclone had made the landfall.

“In the bay area, it’s been quite low-lying areas, there’s been flooding and water that has gone up to about halfway into houses. A lot of communication has been cut off in Mozambique due to power lines being damaged by the strong winds.”

The forecaster concluded by saying Saws had struggled to receive further information from the Mozambique weather services as their power lines had been damaged.

Kruger National Park spokesman Isaac Phaala said the only damage the area had experienced was to small low-lying bridges that had been washed away. Other than that, everything was still in place.

“All gravel roads around Mopani are closed [because they] had 66mm of rainfall,” he said.

“Boulders and Shipandani are not accessible. Guests will have to drive via Letaba to Phalaborwa,” he said.

– asandam@citizen.co.za

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