SA in no imminent danger from cyclone Batsirai

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SA is in no immediate danger from Batsirai, a tropical cyclone now affecting the southern Indian Ocean.

Batsirai is the second significant named system of the 2021/2022 season. The first, Ana, made landfall last week and killed at least 86 people across southern and eastern Africa. Recovery operations are ongoing.

The SA Weather Service (SAWS) said on Tuesday afternoon that Batsirai had sustained winds of about 140km/h and was moving slowly south-west at 18.5km/h.

The service cautioned that despite significant advances in numeric weather prediction and supercomputing, it is not yet possible to accurately determine whether Batsirai will eventually affect SA, either directly or indirectly.

Latest forecasts by tropical cyclone advisory La Reunion, on Reunion island, suggests that Batsirai should pass north of Mauritius and Reunion in the next few days. Rain bands around the periphery of Batsirai could affect the islands.

The cyclone is predicted to make landfall in Madagascar on Friday and the island, particularly the central part of the eastern coast, will bear the brunt of strong, damaging winds and torrential rainfall.

SAWS cautioned that very rough seas, combined with the storm surge, tend to be more extreme on the southern (towards the south pole) side of tropical storms in this region of the world. And the steep, rugged topography of the mountains on the eastern coastline of Madagascar “will no doubt” worsen the risk of rainfall as well as flash floods and mudslides.

“Acknowledging that the movement of tropical cyclones can be extremely erratic, and hence challenging to predict with any accuracy, it is difficult to speculate about future movements of Batsirai in the timescale beyond this weekend.