KZN cyclone threat 'not as extreme'

2012-03-03 22:49
Durban - The SA Weather Service announced on Saturday night that tropical cyclone Irina, which was expected to hit the northern coast of KwaZulu-Natal this weekend, would not be as extreme as initially predicted.

"There is no indication that the storm will make landfall in the following five days," said spokesperson Hannlee Doubell.

"The storm retains a moderate tropical storm status."

She explained that the centre of the storm was moving eastward towards the ocean and would not hit land in Richards Bay.

"Due to its position relative to the coastline it will still result in heavy falls of rain over the southern part of Mozambique, Swaziland, Mpumalanga, and the east coast of South Africa which will create a risk of flooding in those areas," said Doubell.

Rough seas with waves in excess of four to six metres was expected from Richards Bay to Maputo, she said.

Disaster management teams across the province was on standby and they would be liaising with municipalities.

The Weather Service warned on Friday that the storm system would dump an "extreme" amount of rain on the region over the weekend.

"Areas around Kosi Bay, St Lucia, and Richard's Bay can expect up to 400mm of rain over this period," Doubell said at the time.

However, the US Navy's Joint Typhoon Warning Centre was predicting Irina would make landfall further south.

It predicted that the cyclone would strike land slightly south of the Mozambican capital city of Maputo on Sunday afternoon and it would make its way into Swaziland before dissipating, but northern KwaZulu-Natal would be affected.

Gusts of wind of up to 111km/h could occur.

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