Tropical Storm Dineo Pounds Mozambique, Nears South Africa

  • Weather system to weaken significantly as it moves over land
  • Heavy rains expected in northeastern South Africa, Zimbabwe

Tropical cyclone Dineo pummeled Mozambique’s southern coastline near a resort town late Wednesday, killing seven people, as it moved west toward South Africa and Zimbabwe, according to weather forecasters.

It’s the first cyclone to make landfall in the southeast African nation in almost a decade, with winds gusting up to 180 kilometers (110 miles) per hour and rainfall expected to exceed 150 millimeters during the 24 hours it passes over both coastal and inland areas, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization said on its website. Dineo reached the coast at about 6:30 p.m., it said.

After moving onto land, Dineo weakened significantly because it’s cut off from the ocean’s heat that it needs to survive, according to the South African Weather Service. It’s now classified as a tropical depression. As it tracks toward the northeastern parts of South Africa and Zimbabwe, heavy rains will continue, the agency said. The greatest impact in South Africa will be overnight Thursday into Friday morning, with heavy rains over the country’s Limpopo province, which includes Kruger National Park.

“The system will still pose a great risk for the next 36 to 48 hours, particularly in terms of further exceptionally heavy rainfall and resultant flooding,” the South African Weather Service said on its website. “Very heavy rain, of the order of 100 millimeters (3.9 inches) to 200 millimeters can be expected over the eastern half of Limpopo province, continuing into Friday.”

Eye Witness News, based in Johannesburg, said Dineo killed seven people, citing the government’s disaster center. State broadcaster Radio Mocambique reported that four people died and that the storm cut telephone communications and electricity supplies in Mozambique’s Inhambane and Gaza provinces. Schools and government offices in both provinces were closed and infrastructure was damaged, it said.

The storm is the ninth tropical cyclone to have struck Mozambique since 1990, according to Jeff Masters, co-founder of commercial forecaster Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The most recent was tropical cyclone Jokwe in 2008.

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