By Phephile Motau
The Eswatini Meteorological Service is on alert for Cyclone Freddy, although it is not yet in their region of concern.
Meteorologist Phephisa Sihlongonyane said Cyclone Freddy was yet to enter Madagascar and it is about 3 000 to 4 000 km away from Mozambique.
He was, however, quick to point out that they were on alert. He said their models would accurately predict the track of the cyclone once it falls on Madagascar, which would occur by Friday.
Read More: Flood warning as Cyclone Freddy zeroes in
He said they would then know if it was tracking towards the country or away from Eswatini.
“Our main concern is when the cyclone is over Madagascar and when it enters the Mozambican Channel,” he said.
Sihlongonyane said they would give more updates starting on Wednesday. He said once it fell on Madagascar, they would give 24-hourly updates, and once it was in the Mozambican Channel, they would issue warnings and alerts every 12 hours.
Sihlongonyane said the cyclone is expected to lose its intensity once it falls on Madagascar. He said, however, it could gain intensity once it enters the Mozambican Channel if the water is hot.
“By that time, our models will be able to forecast which track it will take,” he said.
Sihlongonyane added that other systems were present in the atmosphere, and they would also determine which track the cyclone would take and they would ensure to keep members of the public updated.
Read More: Cyclone Freddy to hit Madagascar by Tuesday
The tropical cyclone season in our part of the world is from November to April, with the peak frequency in January and February according to the meteorology department.
Only tropical cyclones moving into the Mozambique Channel influence Eswatini’s weather. When this happens, the country usually experiences dry weather over the interior because of the subsiding air surrounding a tropical cyclone. Only a few moves in over or close enough to the land to cause destruction.
In such cases, Eswatini may experience destructive winds and the risk of flooding. Significant tropical cyclones that had such an effect was Domoina which occurred in January 1984, Imboa in February 1984 and more recently, Eline in February 2000. The latest cyclone to affect Eswatini was Eloise in 2021.