Maputo — A cyclone has formed in the Indian Ocean north of Madagascar, and is heading towards the northern Mozambican coast.
According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC), operated by the US air force, the cyclone is moving in a westerly direction and will be over the Comoros on Thursday. On its current course, it will make landfall In the Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado on Friday.
It is currently moving at a speed of five knots (9.3 kilometres an hour), with sustained wind speeds of 30 knots and gusts of 40 knots. Within the next 48 hours, the sustained wind speed is expected to reach 70 knots (130 kilometres an hour).
The National Meteorology Institute (INAM) warns that the approaching cyclone will affect the weather in Cabo Delgado, as from Wednesday afternoon, with strong winds and heavy rains of over 100 millimetres in 24 hours.
INAM forecasts that the centre of the storm will hit the mainland in Palma district on 26 April. Palma is where international hydrocarbon companies are building plants to liquefy the natural gas discovered in the Rovuma Basin, off the Cabo Delgado coast.
The heavy rains will affect not only Cabo Delgado, but the northern districts of Nampula province (including Nacala, Memba, Mozambique Island, Namapa, Mussuril and Monapo), as well as much of southern Tanzania.
INAM warns that navigation in the Mozambique Channel will be affected by rough seas and reduced visibility.
The Mozambican relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC) says it is paying close attention to the developing storm. The government's National Disaster Technical Council (CTGC - which includes the INGC, INAM, the National Directorate of Water Resources, and the Ministry of Agriculture) met in Maputo on Monday to analyse the forecast, and the situation of the country's rivers.
ING spokesperson Paulo Tomas told reporters it was "too early" to say what measures should be taken, but stressed that all the components of the CTGC "are working in an integrated manner".