Maputo — Tropical cyclone Chalane hit the east coast of Madagascar on Saturday, and is now forecast to follow a course that will take it across the Mozambique Channel in the direction of Beira.
According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC), operated by the United States Navy, although weakening as it tracks across central Madagascar, Chalane shows no sign of dissipating. It is heading in a south-westward direction, but once it hits the Mozambique Channel, its direction is forecast to change to almost due west.
The JTWC forecasts that Chalane will enter the Mozambique Channel early on Monday morning, and will score a direct hit on the French possession of Europa Island on Tuesday morning. 24 hours later, it will make landfall on the central Mozambican coast, near Beira.
Over Madagascar, the cyclone's maximum sustained wind speeds are 25 knots (46 kilometres an hour), with gusts of 35 knots. But Chalane will speed up when it reaches open water. A wind speed of over 90 kilometres an hour is forecast as it approaches the Mozambican coast.
Speaking on Sunday, President Filipe Nyusi, reporting projections given to him by the National Operational Emergency Committee (CENOE), warned that the cyclone could affect four million Mozambicans in the central provinces. He noted that the warmth of the surface waters of the Mozambique Channel will worsen the storm. He compared it to Cyclone Idai which devastated Beira in March 2019.
Nyusi urged the people living in areas of risk to evacuate, since the cyclone is likely to bring floods. "We must be careful", he said. "It's better if all those living in areas of risk leave, because the situation will become very difficult as we saw last year with Idai, when people were clinging to the tops of trees".
"Rescue could be very difficult", he added, "because when the rains are torrential, it's difficult to carry out rescue operations. You have to leave those areas now and make your way to safer zones".
Multi-sector teams are following the situation closely", Nyusi said.
Nyusi visited CENOE's Maputo headquarters on Sunday. He said the authorities are ready to react to a cyclone, but stressed the importance of taking precautionary measures, such as evacuating flood prone areas.