Cyclone Freddy may re-intensify and bring significant rain and more flooding for South Africa
Wed, 22 February 2023
“Freddy” is expected to re-intensify after making landfall in Madagascar on Tuesday while on course for southern Mozambique, and then north-eastern RSA according to the South African Weather Service (SAWS).
Tropical Cyclone “Freddy” made landfall along the eastern coastline of Madagascar on Tuesday early evening. The relatively compact storm was a low-end category 2 tropical cyclone just before making landfall, with winds of 150 km/h and gusts up to 180km/h. “Freddy” weakened significantly due to the rugged terrain it encountered and was downgraded to an overland depression during the evening.
The Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) on La Reunion forecasts that “Freddy” will continue in a west-south-westerly direction over the next few days, regaining its strength this evening as it moves into the Mozambique Channel. According to SAWS, “Freddy” may yet again reach near- tropical cyclone status by Thursday evening while heading to southern Mozambique, making landfall just north of Vilanculos during Friday morning.
SAWS expects “Freddy” will affect the north-eastern parts of South Africa from early Saturday until Monday, especially the Lowveld and escarpment areas of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, as the weather system will be semi-stationary along the north-eastern border for a few days.
Very heavy rainfall in the order of 200 to 400 mm is possible, and this may result in widespread significant flooding.
The districts that may be affected are Vhembe and Mopani in Limpopo, and to a slightly lesser extent, Ehlanzeni in Mpumalanga. SAWS warned that this, after significant flooding occurred over the Lowveld and escarpment areas recently, may be catastrophic and cause prolonged and severe impacts.
Although not as much rain is expected over other places in the north-eastern parts, residents of Capricorn (Limpopo), as well as Umkhanyakude, Zululand and Amajuba (KwaZulu-Natal) are urged to be extra vigilant as the situation may be exacerbated by the recent flooding events in these places.
In addition to heavy rains, strong winds caused by “Freddy” are also expected in the north-eastern parts from Friday evening, with average speeds of about 45 km/h.