Severe tropical storm warning, as Tropical Depression Filipo aims at the south, center of Mozambique

– Tropical disturbance would continue to evolve and become a severe tropical storm and make landfall early Tuesday morning, Mozambique warns.

John Cassim

Harare, Zimbabwe – Mozambique’s National Institute of Meteorology (INAM) has issued a red warning following the formation of a severe tropical storm, which is expected to hit the south and center with gusts of up to 120 kilometers per hour and heavy rainfall.

INAM projections indicated that the current tropical disturbance would continue to “evolve and become a severe tropical storm” and make landfall early Tuesday morning.

The forecast is for strong winds of up to 85 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 120 kilometers per hour, “which could create waves up to seven meters high”.

“In addition, strong winds and moderate rain, locally very heavy, accompanied by thunderstorms are expected in the coastal districts of the provinces of Gaza, Inhambane (south), Sofala, and Zambézia (center),” the INAM statement said.

In neighboring Malawi, the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services (DCCMS) gave early warnings that the country’s southern region could experience a tropical cyclone by Sunday.

The department issued the warning in a statement Thursday, saying once the weather system develops, it would intensify and evolve into a moderate tropical storm, potentially escalating into a tropical cyclone.”

Meanwhile, heavy rains have been persistent in the northern and lakeshore areas of Malawi, and the country’s Department of Water Resources warned the public Thursday that most major rivers in these areas are expected to continue experiencing high water levels up to March 14 and likely cause flooding.

All major rivers in the southern region were expected to start flooding from Sunday as heavy downpours continue.

So far seven people including two children under the age of five have been killed, 14 800 people have been affected and nearly 10 000 were displaced by Thursday, in Nkotankota, in the northern region.

This brought about fresh deadly memories of the March 2023, Tropical Cyclone Freddy, which also originated in the Mozambique Channel, and caused a record devastation in Malawi.

More than 15 districts and cities, most of them in southern Malawi were struck leaving 679 dead and 537 missing, and affected more than 2.2 million people with over 2,000 injuries.

Meanwhile, the South Africa Weather Services (SAWS) has advised that the system may intensify sufficiently to attain Moderate Tropical Storm status with sustained winds of 63 to 80km/h.

The SAWS was basing its prediction on the opinion of the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC) at La Reunion (the official source of guidance for tropical systems in the South West Indian Ocean region).

The current predicted track for this system, prepared by RSMC La Reunion is a curved, parabolic track that suggests that the system is likely to be overland, over southern Mozambique on Tuesday, then exiting southern Mozambique near Xai-Xai on Wednesday.

Whilst the eastern parts of South Africa are not expected to be directly affected by this system, the Lowveld regions of Mpumalanga and Limpopo, as well as northern KwaZulu-Natal could experience a spell of windy, rainy weather in the period between Tuesday and Thursday this week.

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