Cyclone heading towards KwaZulu-Natal (Durban South Africa)

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Cyclone heading towards KwaZulu-Natal (Durban South Africa)

#1 Postby Amanzi » Tue Mar 04, 2003 12:49 pm

By Keith Ross


A tropical cyclone - accompanied by torrential rain and winds of up to 130km/h - is heading down the Mozambique Channel towards KwaZulu-Natal.

The cyclone's movements are largely unpredictable, but it is expected to hit the coast of southern Mozambique some time on Saturday afternoon or night.

It has been growing in intensity for several days, and meteorological experts fear it could cause extensive damage and flooding over a wide area.

The cyclone, code named "Japhet", could also bring high winds and heavy rain to parts of northern KwaZulu-Natal by Monday.

'We expect it to affect the area between Vilanculos in the north to Xai-Xai in the south'
Japhet is being closely monitored by the weather office in Pretoria, which has already issued a warning to the disaster management services of Mozambique.

"This storm could do significant damage and a large portion of southern Mozambique is at risk," said meteorologist, Kevin Rae.

"We expect it to affect the area between Vilanculos in the north to Xai-Xai in the south," he said. "The flood plain close to Xai-Xai is of particular concern.

"The local topography there, like much of Mozambique, is very flat and the rivers flood very quickly."

Rae said people in KwaZulu-Natal should - as a precaution - avoid travelling into the path of the storm this weekend.

"So any South Africans, who were considering going fishing or diving in Mozambique, should reconsider their plans."

He said cyclones were extremely flexible weather systems and difficult to predict, but he believed Japhet would not affect KwaZulu-Natal this weekend.

"Our concerns about KwaZulu-Natal could start from Monday, but it is hard to say at this stage how much of a threat the cyclone will pose."

Rae said ships in the Mozambique Channel had been monitoring the storm warnings and were moving out of the way of the system. "There are phenomenal seas in the central area of the cyclone because of the high winds."

He said the cyclone's "embryonic beginnings" were first noted last weekend when ships reported an area of low-pressure with gale force winds between Mozambique and Madagascar.

This had developed by Wednesday into a "significant tropical disturbance" at sea off southern Mozambique.

It had continued to move in a south, south-westerly direction at about six knots (11km/h) until Friday.

At the moment it's moving mostly east to west, and is expected to reach the coast between Baza and Inhambane some time on Saturday.

"But we wish to emphasise that this is an estimate and the landfall place and time could well differ markedly with the passage of time.

"Such systems are notoriously unpredictable in their movement and as such represent a major challenge to meteorologists."
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Japhet. Press release from SA weather service

#2 Postby Amanzi » Tue Mar 04, 2003 12:57 pm

Tropical cyclone "Japhet" begins dissipating overland
Tuesday 4th March 2003, 12h00SAST
Press Release
K. J. Rae

Herewith the latest update in the daily series of Web updates that the S A Weather Service (SAWS) has published on this system, following its development and evolution since it first became a "named" system. One can see from the satellite image below (09h30SAST) that the central and eastern parts of Zimbabwe have closed up under cloudy to overcast conditions likely to be associated with fairly general showers and thundershowers. Heavy rain can be inferred to still be occurring over the interior of southern Mozambique, although it is difficult to confirm this, due to a paucity of surface data reports.

Image
METEOSAT (IR) image, 09h30SAST 4th March 2003 Copyright: EUMETSAT 2003


Tropical cyclone "Japhet" made landfall on the Mozambican coast at about 21h00 on Sunday night, just southwards of Vilanculos, delivering torrential rain, hurricane-force winds and 10 metre sea conditions to the immediate coastline. Since then, it has tracked steadily westwards and by this morning finds itself close to 20 south latitude, over the Save river basin of the eastern highlands of Zimbabwe. Typically, this sort of tropical system rapidly loses strength and impetus as soon as it moves over a land surface. Basically the reason is twofold -- partly due to increased levels of friction in the lower atmosphere (as opposed to an ocean surface) and partly due to a reduced availibility of moisture (and associated release of latent heat of condensation). Wind strength in and around the core have already tailed off significantly and consequently overland wind-related damage is not expected to be notable.



The SAWS has been monitoring this system very closely during the last week and will continue to do so. The current outlook, especially considering the impact or influence on Limpopo Province in the next 48 hours is as follows. The remains of the cyclone are expected to persist over Zimbabwe, in the form of an extensive tropical low pressure system during tomorrow. Further westward drift is expected and thus general rain and heavy by overnight and tomorrow. Occurrences of heavy rain (50 mm or more, per day) can be expected today as well as tomorrow over the lowveld region of Limpopo as well as the northern and north-eastern extremities of the region, including Louis Trichardt, Musina, Punda Maria, Tshipise and Thohoyandou. The SAWS has issued a warning in respect of the likelihood of heavy rain for the abovementioned regions (both today and tomorrow) but we wish to strongly emphasise that such a warning is, in itself, not unusual. There is no cause for alarm or panic amongst the general public. The system continues to weaken and the more active parts of the system are not expected to directly affect South Africa.
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#3 Postby chadtm80 » Tue Mar 04, 2003 1:12 pm

Thanks for keeping us updated amanzi
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Japhet

#4 Postby Aslkahuna » Tue Mar 04, 2003 4:08 pm

was a very compact storm at landfall with TS force winds extending 120 km from the center at the very most so the strongest winds of the storm (130 km/hr by the WMO standard and 160 km/hr by the US standard for sustained winds) were confined to a small region around the eye. The strongest winds reported from Vilanculos proper were 40Kt gusting to 57kt
(72G103 km/hr) according to JTWC.

Steve
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Rob-TheStormChaser

#5 Postby Rob-TheStormChaser » Fri Mar 07, 2003 12:38 pm

I watched this one develop...was very tight and confining.
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