Tropical storm warning - but it's too early to say if it will hit SA
The SA Weather Service says it will vigilantly monitor the possibility of a moderate tropical storm — named Eloise — building off the coast in the coming days.
The service said predicting the development of tropical storms was not easy. But it said it would continue to keep a close eye on the situation and issue updates when necessary.
“Tropical systems are notoriously fickle and unpredictable, often exhibiting very erratic movement. Modern satellite remote sensing as well as advanced ensemble numeric modelling techniques do, however, mitigate much of this uncertainty, at least in the short term,” the service said. It said Eloise, a fresh tropical system, had developed and was positioned off the northeastern quadrant of Madagascar. It follows the severe tropical storm Chalane in Southern Africa during Christmas and New Year.
The weather service said Eloise was now classified as moderate, but was likely to intensify in the coming days.
“The most likely track Eloise will follow should take it close to the coast of Madagascar tomorrow [Tuesday], as it intensifies further to a severe tropical storm, with sustained winds likely to exceed 100km/h. Hence, as Eloise makes landfall on this coastline in the latter part of tomorrow, it is likely to cause considerable wind-related damage, as well as deliver torrential rain.
“Given the steep geographic terrain of eastern Madagascar, flooding and wash-aways are also a distinct possibility. Moreover, along the coast there will be a risk of a storm surge, especially on the southernmost leading quadrant of the storm system,” the weather service said.
It was likely that as the storm moved across the land mass of northern Madagascar it would be exposed to increased friction as the winds interact with the rough land surface, weakening it.
It said Eloise was projected to be positioned southeast of Beira, Mozambique, by midday on Saturday. This is when the tropical storm will require close monitoring, as it has the potential to make landfall along the southern Mozambican coastline, between Beira and Vilanculos, during the coming weekend.
Alternatively, Eloise could gradually begin to move on a more southerly path, which could potentially take it further down the Mozambican coastline and, possibly, into the northeastern lowveld region of SA.
At the moment, the speculative possibility of Eloise directly affecting SA was only one of a multitude of possible outcomes, given the long lead time, and should be considered to be a “low probability/high uncertainty” worst-case scenario.