The south-east coast of Africa looks set to take a battering this week when Tropical Cyclone Idai bursts onto the scene on Thursday evening. Our neighbour Mozambique is set to feel the full extent of the deluge, as bumper rainfalls threaten lives and structural damage.
Eastern and central parts of the country are in prime position to take a battering, with areas near Beira and Quelimane set for a biblical deluge of around 300mm over the course of two days.
We spoke to Alan Morrison of AfricaWeather earlier, to get a better understanding of what’s to come. He told us that the storm would reach its peak late on Thursday evening, before pushing its way from the east into Mozambique, and even making landfall in eastern Zimbabwe.
Will Tropical Cyclone Idai hit South Africa?
Given the cyclone’s current approach to the south-east from the Indian Ocean, there were concerns that it could reach parts of South Africa – a downpour that would be most unwelcome after Gauteng and KZN experienced some terrible floods over the past week. However, Morrison put those fears to bed:
“Tropical Cyclone Idai is not expected to hit South Africa at this stage. It should only affect central parts of Mozambique and possibly the far-east of Zimbabwe over the weekend. Harare will experience some rain, but it won’t be subject to the forecast cyclone.”
Alan Morrison, AfricaWeather
Tropical Cyclone Idai – weather forecast for 14 and 15 March
What makes Idai a cyclone?
If you’re wondering what makes this weather system a cyclone over anything else, the answer is in the location. Only the South Pacific and Indian Ocean can claim “cyclones”, and even then, they have to meet the following criteria before getting their name:
- Winds need to be upwards of 119km/h.
- Tropical cyclones must form over ocean surfaces that are at least 27 degrees Celsius warm.
- These storms are powered by the release of latent heat from the condensation of water vapour in the atmosphere. There aren’t many places in the world where this can happen.
Idai ticks all three of these boxes.