UPDATE: #Dineo downgraded, but heavy rains still expected to hit SA

2017-02-16 10:07 - Louzel Lombard Steyn
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Cape Town - As parts of Mozambique are seeing the devastating effects of tropical storm Dineo which has since been downgraded from cyclone status after making landfall, the South African government has called on communities to be on high alert for the knock-on effects of the storm set to hit SA later on Thursday.

UPDATE: #Dineo hits SA: Stormy weekend ahead

Wind speeds of 50-60km/h are still expected, as are severe thunderstorms with potential flash floods.

The South African Weather Service also issued a warning of the anticipated storm's effects, starting from Thursday, 16 February, until the weekend on Sunday 19 February.  

"The tropical storm will lead to flooding that might cut off many communities, displace others, lead to loss of life, destruction of infrastructure and property," the SA government warns.

UPDATE: ALERT: Kruger shuts all gravel roads as Dineo brings heavy rain

The SA government says they are working across three spheres in relation to contingency plans to ensure a coherent, integrated and coordinated response. This multi-sectoral plan will assist where need arises to ensure safety of communities and to minimize the impact.

Limpopo to be hit hardest 

The effects of the storm reached SA in the early hours of Thursday morning, with "the provinces of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the extreme northern parts of KZN to be more affected leaving behind disastrous conditions," according to the SA Weather Service.

"By Friday, 17 February, Dineo will continue accompanied by strong rains and winds," the SA Weather Service says.  

This will mostly affect the Kruger National Park, Enhlanzeni, Vhembe, Mopani and Waterberg district Municipalities.

"Even though Limpopo Province will be the worst affected, the impact of the storms and heavy rains might also be experienced in other provinces and areas as the rivers flowing from affected areas might lead to flooding somewhere else," they say. 

KZN's Cooperative Governance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube on Wednesday, 15 February, said that the uMkhanyakude and Zululand districts, especially, were to take all alerts and warnings seriously.

SEE: #CycloneDineo's effects on SA: What you need to know

SA Disaster management teams on standby

Disaster management teams were activated in both the Kruger National Park as well as KwaZulu-Natal. 

In Limpopo too, a multi-stakeholder team comprising members of South African Police Service, South African National Defence Force, traffic officials, South Africa's Social Security Agency and local ambulance services, has been assembled by the province's Department of Cooperative Governance to be on standby when the storm hits. 

Kruger National Park spokesperson William Mabasa told Traveller24, "The cyclone will possibly hit the whole park as it is. Visitors who are in the Park on Friday and Saturday must take precautions and stay in the camps if it rains."

A statement released by the National Emergency Operational Centre (CENOE) on Wednesday afternoon warned that the Category Four cyclone could bring high winds of up to 200 kilometres an hour with the likelihood of rainfall of more than 100 millimetres in 24 hours.

Here's what the cyclone currently looks like in Mozambique: 

In the affected areas? Here's what to do

If you are facing an emergency due to the cyclone, you can contact the official KwaZulu-Natal disaster and emergency teams on the toll-free number 0800 000 953/4.  

You can also engage with The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs in KwaZulu-Natal, who operates the province's disaster management teams, on Twitter.

In Limpopo, the toll free number 0800 222 111 has been activated for 24 hours diverted to Senior Management after hours.

Visitors in the Kruger National Park who are in distress can call the emergency centre numbers 013 735 0197 or 076 801 9679. "The same numbers can be used by those who are planning to come to the park to inquire about the situation in case it rains.

Most of the areas in the park do not have cell phone coverage therefore social media such Facebook can also assist in such cases by posting on our SANParks Kruger page," Mabasa says. 

The SA government also urges communities to regularly follow developments through Radio, TV and other communication channels as this will assist to keep them safe.

Satellite imagery for Tropical Cyclone Dineo at 09:30 on Thursday, 16 February
Source: South African Weather Service

Cyclone safety 101 

Even though plans are in place to mitigate the impact of the disastrous conditions caused by the cyclone, government is appealing to all communities in the affected areas to take extra care ahead of this coming cyclone. 

Preferably communities should try at all cost to stay home during this period to avoid injuries as it is envisaged that there will be debris flying around and due to heavy rains and storms, visibility will also be poor. 

It is expected that this storms might negatively affect normal life as power and water supply might be interrupted, roads flooded and bridges washed away. Communities are urged to recognise the danger that this cyclone brings and urge them to take necessary precautions. 

Click here for a comprehensive guide for motorists

The SA government has issued the following tips in anticipation of the cyclone:

We urge parents, care givers and guardians to ensure the safety of their children during the storms. In case of going to school, it is important to ensure that they are safe and do not cross flooded roads, bridges and rivers.
Communities are therefore requested not to cross flooded roads, low lying bridges and rivers. It is also important for people not to underestimate the power of moving water, especially flooded rivers.
Be especially cautious at night when it’s harder to recognize flood dangers.
If walking outdoors, avoid crossing rivers and swollen streams where water is above your ankles.
Just six inches of fast-moving flood water can knock a person off their feet, and a depth of 2 feet is enough to float a car.
Never try to walk, swim or drive through fast-moving flood water. Stop, turn around and go another way.
Listen to the special warnings on radio and/or television
Abandon your home immediately guided by relevant authorities if evacuation is recommended, before access is cut off by flood water.
Never drive into water covering the road.  You would not know how deep it is or if the road has been washed away.
If the vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground

In cases where other people are displaced, we request community members to assist one another guided by the principles of Ubuntu, especially those that would have been displaced by the sheer force of the cyclone. 

The South African Weather Service and all other teams on teams dealing with disaster management will continue to monitor any further developments relating to this weather system. Updates will be issued as and when necessary through various communication channels.

*This story has been updated to include updates of Cyclone Dineo being downgraded to a tropical storm. 

What to read next on Traveller24

Naming a Storm: How Tropical Cyclone #Dineo got its name

#CycloneDineo's effects on SA: What you need to know

Weather Update: Heavy rains expected as #Dineo nears SA