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Experts allay cyclone fears

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MBABANE – The central forecasting office said although the country has received heavy rains and strong winds in high places, these are not cyclone weather qualities.

Since the pouring rains started on Monday morning many people have been fearing that the country could be within a cyclone especially as weather forecasters predict that they could last until Friday.

Yesterday as the rains continued into their second day popular networking site Facebook and the streets were abuzz with people expressing their concerns over the rains.

One of the status updates that was popular read; CYCLONE/ ZAMCOLO !!!!! wacala kanje (it started like this). The unending rain seems to be what we witnessed in 1984 and the results were catastrophic..., infrastructure damage to roads, buildings, bridges were the order....Baba sixolele, yebo sonile!!!!!! If ekhaya kini kwakhiwe nge stick and mud, please call them to check if they are still fine or emergency relief is needed!"

This sparked a number of comments from this facebooker’s friends who genuinely believed that the country could be experiencing a cyclone.

However weather experts yesterday told The Times that cyclones have very strong winds of 100 kilometres an hour or more. The winds blow buildings apart and uproot trees.

During a cyclone very heavy rains fall in a short period of time, causing whole cities to flood and leaving crops under water.

Cyclone Dando hit Mozambique but was not close enough to Swaziland to cause destructive winds and extreme flooding.

The country received most of its rain after the cyclone had already died down in Mozambique, although the rains and low temperatures might mislead people into thinking the cyclone had actually hit the country.

The cyclone’s moisture was spread across Zimbabwe, Swaziland, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

Senior forecaster Dennis Mkhonta said on Monday the country is experiencing chilly weather because the spinning cyclone’s outer rim picks up cold water from the ocean and dumps it over the eastern parts of the country.

Cyclone Dando has been a relatively weak tropical cyclone, Mkhonta said. It was labelled a Category 1 cyclone, while 2005’s deadly cyclone in North America, known as Hurricane Katrina, was labelled a Category 5 cyclone, the forecaster pointed out.

Hurricane Katrina killed almost 2 000 people and caused more than US$80 billion of damage to buildings.

In Swaziland some areas have received more than half of the rain they expected for the month in a single day. In Mhlume it rained 76.4 millimetres between Monday 8am and yesterday 8am. This is 62 per cent of the rains that fell for the whole of last January, which totalled 122.3 millimetres.

Luve received 67 per cent of the rains it had in January 2011 yesterday. 72 millilitres fell in a day where 106.9 millimetres had fallen last January.

Mkhonta said it is possible for an area to receive a large chunk of its expected monthly rainfall in a day’s time.

According to forecasters, it depends on the amount of moisture locked into the clouds hovering over an area.

He explained that the rains should be decreasing gradually from today onwards as the cyclone’s moisture lessens.

The forecasters said they believe Mozambique will not be experiencing any more severe weather today, although "strong winds and rough seas will dominate the southern parts of the Mozambique Channel," the forecasting team added, referring to the channel of water between Mozambique and Madagascar.

Another cyclone may be coming

MBABANE – The left-over rains from Cyclone Dando hanging over Zimbabwe and Northern Mozambique are being sucked into a new cyclone-in-the-making.

Swaziland’s weather forecasters at the Department of Meteorology are closely monitoring the growth of clouds and rains over the northern parts of the neighbouring countries. The concern is that the lump of moisture and energy might become another cyclone.

For the time being, the cloud mass hanging over the Mozambican channel is just a depression, forecasters explained. A depression is a type of storm which is not as strong as a thunderstorm. It does, however, have more energy to release higher than normal afternoon rain showers.

The new depression in Mozambique’s northern parts may turn into a cyclone if it passes over the Mozambican Channel’s warm water. Ocean water along Mozambique’s coast can often reach 30 degrees Celsius and this fuels a cyclone with the energy to grow.

A cyclone, also known as a tropical cyclone in the Southern Hemisphere, is a massive, spinning column of water which causes heavy rains and immensely strong winds.

For the time being, the developing storm does not pose a threat to Swaziland, forecasters from the Meteorology Department said. The storm is moving to the South though and might either grow as it crosses the ocean or weaken as it hits land.

...Swaziland gets after-effects of Cyclone Dando that hit Moz

MBABANE – The tropical cyclone that hit Mozam-bique on Monday has broken up, scattering its rain over the region, but particularly in Swaziland.

The country seems to be bearing the brunt of the dying cyclone’s rainclouds. The cyclone developed on Friday and seemed to be heading for Swaziland before it changed course northwards.

The Department of Meteorology said when Cyclone Dando, as it has been named, hit land on Monday morning it lost some of its force. The heavy rains and wind the country experienced yesterday were the after-effects of the cyclone, senior forecaster Dennis Mkhonta said.

Cyclone Dando’s centre is now hovering over Zimbabwe but has lost its power and has been downgraded to a ‘depression’. While Swaziland missed the cyclone’s deadly windspeeds and floods, the country seems to be positioned right underneath the former cyclone’s rain clouds.

"If the storm is intense it pulls moisture towards it," Mkhonta explained yesterday at the Central Forecasting Office in a rainy Mbabane. "As soon as it moves inland it loses its power and, as the winds die down, it spreads its moisture out."

More rain in 3 days than in a month

MBABANE – It is possible that some towns and cities in the country will have experienced more rainfall in three days than they are used to getting in a month.

The Department of Meteorology explained that it is likely that areas which had received heavy rainfall on Monday might have received an even higher amount yesterday. Yesterday’s rainfall figures for the country will become available this morning.

It is likely that tomorrow will bring light rains as well, pushing the total rainfall for places like Mbabane, Mhlume, Mananga, Luve, Sandleni, KaLanga and Big Bend in three days over the total received in January last year.


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