A weather phenomenon that could develop into a tropical cyclone is building up in the Indian Ocean.
The depression formed a few days ago some nautical miles off Mauritius’ north-east coast. There is concern that it could grow into a tropical cyclone and hit Madagascar in the next few days, Mozambique later and possibly have an impact in our country in the event that it drifts further inland.
Weather experts do not know yet the amount of power Cyclone Chalane would unleash if it indeed makes landfall on the mainland but the experience we have with cyclones should get us more vigilant.
The Meteorological Service Department (MSD) head of forecasting Mr James Ngoma yesterday said the agency was monitoring the depression adding that they could give a more substantial statement on Sunday on the likely trajectory and strength of the phenomenon.
“A depression, not yet a tropical cyclone, is currently developing in the Indian Ocean located approximately to the north-east of Mauritius and the far east of Madagascar,” we quote him as saying on our front page today.
“It will continue south eastward with steady intensification over the next few days. The potential of development of a significant tropical cyclone is still very high. Because of this, we still continue to monitor the everchanging trajectory but it will end up near Nampula in Mozambique, according to the current trajectory.”
“Because of its nature it might develop like Tropical Cyclone Kenneth but due to the radical nature of the systems we are experiencing at the moment, the MSD will continue to track the cyclone and keep the public informed.
So, we are still monitoring the situation to see when it will land in Zimbabwe. The Civil Protection Unit (CPU) committees at district and national level have been activated so all areas have been covered and they will be there on the ground to ensure that all citizens of the country are safe.
The first country that might be affected is Madagascar that’s when it will fall on the main African continent. So, at the moment we cannot confirm or refute whether it will affect Zimbabwe. Based on that the current rains it is indicative of the rains that were projected by the MSD of normal to above normal rainfalls.”
We still have memories of Tropical Cyclone Idai which hit the country in March last year, killing more than 300 people, displacing more than 20 000 families in the eastern highlands and destroying homes and infrastructure.
Few will forget how a whole settlement, Ngangu in Chimanimani, Manicaland, was totally destroyed by heavy rains, flooding, winds of indescribable force and a resulting landslide. The country is still to fully recover from that weather event.
Malawi was affected too.
Mozambique was the worst affected. It wiped out roads, bridges and dams in that country. The United Nations estimated that Cyclone Idai and subsequent flooding destroyed more than US$773 million in buildings, infrastructure, and crops with more than 100 000 homes being damaged or destroyed.
We pray that the depression dissipates before it reaches Madagascar.
However, if it indeed reaches that country and further west into Zimbabwe, we are hopeful that disaster response systems that have been activated here will assist in ensuring that, first and foremost, lives are preserved, and second, damage to infrastructure is minimised.
We hope that the CPU will communicate effectively across all platforms so that everyone in the country gets the information that they could be affected and what steps they must do to minimise damage.
As the MSD continues to monitor the depression and in the event that is gains strength to become a tropical cyclone and its likely flight path defined, we expect the CPU to concentrate its activities on the relevant areas.
We appeal to our people to be on alert and take heed of any warnings that the CPU might give them.
However, as we have already noted, we pray that the depression ends as a depression.