Cyclone Dineo to trigger weekend downpours, floods

Cyclone Dineo PIC. NASA
Cyclone Dineo PIC. NASA

Heavy rains of up to 100 millimetres in 24 hours, as well as possible floods are due in the North East, Central and Gantsi districts starting on Friday, as a tropical cyclone known as “Dineo” bursts in to the region, from the Indian Ocean, Mmegi has learnt.

NASA upgraded the tropical storm to a cyclone yesterday with its landfall expected in southern Mozambique in the very early hours of tomorrow.

While its winds of up to 212 kilometres per hour will ease once it reaches land, Cyclone Dineo is expected to cause destruction in Mozambique, particularly the coastal areas, Mpumalanga (South Africa) and southern parts of Zimbabwe.

Yesterday, Meteorological Services Department chief meteorologist, Radithupa Radithupa said while Cyclone Dineo would weaken into a depression or high-pressure system by the time it enters Botswana, it would still cause heavy rains in the north-east, before moving westwards towards Gantsi by Sunday and Monday.

In certain areas, the rains will cause floods, particularly where soils already have high moisture.

The name of the cyclone was put forward by Botswana as part of the list drawn up by the 15-member Tropical Cyclone Committee for the South West Indian Ocean at its last meeting, an event, which takes place every two years.

“Once over land, it will lose a lot of its moisture and strength due to friction, and we expect it will become a depression causing very heavy rainfall from Friday,” Radithupa said.

“It will affect areas in the North East, Central between Friday and Saturday, before shifting towards Gantsi going into Monday and people should be watchful of the rains.

“In the southern districts, we are expecting a bit of rain, but not of the intensity of the north. There will be scattered thundershowers in the south, while in the north we expect widespread thundershowers.”

Cyclone Dineo adds to a very wet season, where most areas have already received above average rainfall. All indications point to continued strong rains for the remainder of the season, which could push into April, Radithupa said.

“We have another one and a half months to go in the season and it may go through to April,” the chief meteorologist said.

All major dams in the north are spilling, including the country’s biggest, Dikgatlhong, while in the south, only Gaborone Dam is yet to impound significantly.

By yesterday Gaborone Dam, the country’s second largest, was at 35.8% full, having failed in 2015 for the first time in its 55 year history.

This year’s rain season comes off the back of a record drought experienced between November 2015 and March 2016, during which six heatwaves were experienced, leading to widespread crop and livestock failure.

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