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Southern Africa – Tropical Storm Eloise Flash Update No.4, As of 21 January 2021

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Tropical Storm Eloise is in the Mozambique Channel, where it is forecast to intensify into a tropical cyclone on Friday, 22 January.

  • The storm is expected to make landfall in Sofala Province, Mozambique, probably on Saturday, 23 January.

  • Heavy rainfall, strong winds and thunderstorms are expected in several districts of Nampula, Sofala and Zambezia provinces in Mozambique from 22 January.

  • Latest forecasts indicate that the storm may then pass through southern Zimbabwe.

SITUATION OVERVIEW

Tropical Storm Eloise is now in the Mozambique Channel, where it is expected to gain strength and become a Tropical Cyclone on 22 January before making its second landfall, likely on 23 January.

Latest forecasts indicate that Eloise is likely to make landfall in central Mozambique, between the districts of Muanza and Machanga, according to the National Institute of Meteorology (INAM). It is anticipated that Sofala’s capital Beira and surrounding areas, which were hardest-hit by Tropical Cyclone Idai in 2019 and recently impacted by Tropical Storm Chalane, could bear the brunt of the landfall, according to MeteoFrance. The storm is expected to bring heavy rains (more than 200 millimeters in 24 hours in all districts of Sofala Province and several districts of Manica and Inhambane provinces), accompanied by thunderstorms and winds up to 150km/h, according to INAM. There are growing concerns regarding the potential for widespread floods, with all river basins in Sofala and Inhambane provinces already above alert levels and more rains to follow in the coming days. In Buzi District, pre-emptive evacuations were undertaken to temporary shelter in the 25 de Setembro and 3 de Fevereiro primary schools and facilities of the Companhia do Búzi, according to media reports quoting the Permanent Secretary of the district. Search and rescue operations are underway to reach some 400 families along the Buzi River and in some interior villages, following intense rainfall.

After landfall in Mozambique, Eloise is projected to lose strength as it moves across land, but is forecasted to bring heavy rains to eastern South Africa, particularly Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, southern Zimbabwe and far eastern Botswana, according to various weather services, including MeteoFrance, INAM and South African Weather Services (SAWS). Depending on its trajectory, the Eloise weather system may also impact Eswatini.

In Madagascar, authorities are maintaining red alerts for heavy rainfall and strong winds along the far north-western coastline provinces. At least 1,000 people were affected, and one person was killed, when the storm made landfall in Antanahala District. Rain-induced landslides are predicted in steeply sloped terrains in Sava and Analanjirofo regions, and the districts of Befandriana Avaratra and Mandritsara, due to sustained flooding and heavy rainfall, according to the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC).

HUMANITARIAN PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE

Humanitarians and authorities in Madagascar are responding, led by the National Office for Risk and Disaster Management (BNGRC). The Ministry of Education and sector partners, with support from UNICEF, are assessing damages to schools and planning to distribute materials, including tarpaulins and school tents, to enable around 5,000 students whose schools were impacted by Eloise to resume their education. An aerial assessment, including BNGRC, MEDAIR and Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF), is scheduled for 22 January.

In Mozambique, the National Institute for Management and Disaster Risk Reduction (INGD) is leading preparedness while Emergency Operations Centres (Centro de Operações de Emergência, COE) are operational at provincial level. INGD, the National Centre for Emergency Operations (CENOE) and humanitarian partners are pre-positioning teams and supplies in relevant areas. INGD has been issuing alerts calling on people in potentially affected areas to take precautionary measures. The Mozambique Humanitarian Country Team met on 20 January to discuss the situation and actions required and national Cluster Coordinators are mapping available stocks for pre-positioning and early response. Humanitarians in Mozambique have warned of lack of funding and available stocks, as partners’ capacity is already stretched by the ongoing operations to assist people affected by the rapidly evolving conflict in Cabo Delgado and the response to Tropical Storm Chalane, which made landfall in late-December 2020.

In Zimbabwe, humanitarian partners are updating stock-mapping and have prepared a contingency plan, in support of the Government’s preparedness and response efforts, which are led by the Department of Civil Protection. The Inter-Cluster Coordination Group and Humanitarian Country Team met on 21 January to discuss the latest developments and preparedness measures.

For more information, please contact OCHA Regional Office for Southern and Eastern Africa:
In Madagascar: Rija Rakotoson, rakotoson@.org +261 33 15 076 93
In Mozambique: Sergio Dinoi dinoi@un.org +258 86 831 7569
In Nairobi: Saviano Abreu, deabreuisidoro@un.org +254 780 530 141

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs: To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.