Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Correspondent
THE Meteorological Services Department (MSD) has warned that a tropical cyclone might hit the country on Thursday with Matabeleland South, Masvingo and Manicaland provinces expected to be the hardest hit.
In a statement, the MSD said the cyclone may result in extreme flooding.
“The Meteorological Services Department wishes to issue a high alert for tropical cyclone-type rainfall that is forecast from Thursday 16 to Monday 20 February 2017.
“The areas likely to be impacted most are Masvingo and Matabeleland South provinces as well as the southern areas of Manicaland Province,” read the statement.
“Tropical cyclones are preceded by very strong and damaging winds followed by extreme flooding. The MSD is closely monitoring the situation and will issue another alert as soon as the level of significance warrants it.”
The MSD said in case of heavy rains and flooding, if possible, people should stay indoors and off the roads.
“Avoid crossing flooded rivers and swollen streams where the depth is unknown. Avoid driving on a road covered by water and be very cautious at night when it’s harder to recognise flood dangers. In case of severe thunderstorms, if outdoors, seek shelter immediately but do not seek shelter under a tree or in isolated sheds,” the MSD said.
Most parts of the country have experienced heavy rains that have resulted in flooding and damage to property in some areas.
Some people have also lost their lives while attempting to cross flooded rivers while others have been struck by lightning.
Late last month, Umzingwane River and its tributaries notably Insiza, Nkankezi and others were flooded. Part of the Bulawayo–Beitbridge highway was flooded blocking traffic for nearly 12 hours.
In 2000 Cyclone Eline, with speeds of up to 120km per hour, hit Zimbabwe with devastating effects.
During the Cyclone Eline-induced floods, a total of 136 deaths were reported while 59 184 houses and huts were destroyed, 14 999 toilets caved in, 538 schools and 54 clinics were damaged. About 230 dams burst while a total of 20 000 head of livestock were lost.
The tropical cyclone, which first appeared on February 9 and lasted until about March 2 in 2000, was termed the worst in 50 years.