Southern Africa: What You Need to Know About Tropical Cyclone Batsirai

Harare — Barely a week after Tropical Storm Ana brought winds, heavy rains, damage and destruction to parts of Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, Tropical Cyclone Batsirai continues to strengthen as it approaches a Madagascar landfall.

The cyclone, which has formed in the Indian Ocean in recent days, is expected to make landfall on the east coast of Madagascar around February 5, after passing by Mauritius.

The cyclone season in the south-west Indian Ocean intensified in January 2022, with Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe all facing damage and destruction from heavy rainfall and flooding.

In Madagascar, intense rainfall in January caused flooding, landslides, destruction of infrastructure and loss of life, particularly affecting the country’s capital, Antananarivo, and other areas of Analamanga Region, in the centre of the country.

In Mozambique, Tropical Storm Ana made landfall in Angoche district, Nampula province, on February 24, significantly affecting the provinces of Zambezia, Nampula and Tete. The storm has affected over 140,000 people and damaged or destroyed at least 13,670 houses while 20 people have so far been confirmed dead and 196 injured following the passage of the tropical cyclone across northern and central Mozambique.

Homes, bridges, power lines and health facilities in Zimbabwe were swept away by Cyclone Ana in affected Manicaland and Masvingo provinces. Now the impending tropical cyclone could mean further crisis for the affected, some of whom fell victim to Cyclone Idai in 2019.

Meanwhile, in Malawi, officials from the Department of Disaster Management Affairs say at least 32 people have been killed following devastating heavy rains and floods. Tropical Storm Ana is blamed for the devastating floods which caused major electricity blackouts in some cities in the southern African country. President Lazarus Chakwera has since declared the areas affected by cyclone Ana as disaster.

Batsirai is expected to make landfall on the east coast of Madagascar likely between Mananjary and Mahanoro districts, as an Intense Tropical Cyclone with all of the eastern coast of Madagascar already been placed on green alert in anticipation of the landfall, which is expected to have a significant impact.

Africa is no stranger to tropical cyclones, and for a continent already wracked by the effects of climate change, the Tropical Cyclones have been chilling reminders of the destructive power of the kind of storms that will become more common in the future. Due to climate change, tropical cyclones are likely to increase in intensity, cause increased rainfall, and have larger storm surges. They may also intensify more rapidly, and occur at higher latitudes.

The World Health Organization has warned that climate change is now the single biggest health threat facing humanity, but scientists have agreed that the worst impacts can be avoided with coordinated and rapid climate action. Proposed goals include an end date to the use of coal, making new cars zero-emissions within 20 years and ending deforestation by the end of the 2020s.

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