Tropical cyclone Idai is currently over the northern parts of the Mozambique channel and is expected to move slowly south-west into parts of Mozambique over the next couple of days. Dangerously high seas, extreme flooding, strong, damaging winds, storm surges and significant rainfall may be expected. Current satellite imagery indicates Idai to be located in the central Mozambique channel (located at 18.4°south, 41.8° east at 08:00 SAST) with a central pressure of 973 hPa and a maximum average wind speed of 70 knots (140km/h).

Idai should move in a south-westerly direction over the next couple of days, as a subtropical ridge is preventing movement polewards. It is therefore expected to move towards the Mozambican coast where it will make landfall.

Although there is some uncertainty around the timing and target location of the system, guidance from Réunion indicates that it will make landfall near the Beira area on Thursday night (14 March).

Torrential rain of 250mm to 350 mm is possible in a 24-hour period which will lead to extreme and widespread flooding in places over the central parts of Mozambique, especially in Sofala province, spreading to Manica province by Friday. Storm surge of 3m and more is possible along the coastline near the cyclone’s centre, which will result in further flooding of low-lying areas.

Waves of between 9m and 10m are expected around the centre of the system which will affect the coast of Beira between Chinde and Vilanculos on Thursday, resulting in coastal damage. Winds of up to 140km/h gusting up to 220km/h are expected to have a significant impact especially along the coast and the adjacent interior areas near Beira. Idai will weaken to an overland depression on Friday (15 March) but is still expected to cause torrential rainfall and widespread flooding over Mozambique’s Sofala and Manica provinces, the extreme eastern parts of Zimbabwe and the southern parts of Malawi which have already been hit by severe flooding during the past week. Communities in these areas should follow the lead of the disaster management agencies in those countries.

The South African Weather Service will continue to monitor further developments relating to this weather system and will issue updates. The public are urged, and encouraged, to follow weather forecasts on television and radio.

Updated information in this regard will be available at www.weathersa.co.za as well as via the SA Weather Service Twitter account @SAWeatherServic. – Press release