Tropical cyclones are fairly common in the Indian Ocean, but they rarely venture anywhere near South Africa’s shores. Most of the time, the country lies too south on the continent to be affected by them. But once in a while, they do make landfall.
That’s largely what Dineo is doing right now.
The tropical cyclone is by no means the most intense cyclone to affect South Africa and hit Mozambique’s coastline, but it is the first in the age of peak social media.
But before the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook really fueled citizen reporting, there were other storms. We take a look at a handful that have actually affected South Africa and its neighbours this side of the century.
Leon-Eline, a storm that lived long enough to have two distinct names, was 29-days-old when it finally dissipated over northern Namibia in February 2000. Beginning life on the west coast of Indonesia, the storm travelled over 10 000km across the Indian Ocean, over Madagascar and eventually ploughing into Mozambique and northern South Africa.
The Australian government’s meteorology centre called the resultant landfall of Leon-Eline in Mozambique a “calamity”, and brought “severe wind damage” to the country recovering from earlier storms.
The storm also caused flooding and structural collapses in Limpopo, which injured at least 12. Damages of more than US$300-million were recorded in the province. The situation was even worse in Mozambique, with over 800 000 affected by the resultant flooding.
Image: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team
Dando was the first cyclone to strike Africa’s south-eastern coastline in what was a busy 2012 storm season.
Cyclone Dineo is currently wreaking havoc in Mozambique and northern South Africa, but it isn’t the first cyclone to hit either country
The January 2012 storm, labelled as a tropical depression at its peak, wasn’t as fierce or long-lived as Leon-Eline but still caused flooding in Mozambique’s capital Maputo, Swaziland and the northern reaches of South Africa.
“Gusty winds from Dando caused damage to schools and homes in the Inhambane and Gaza provinces,” NASA explains.
There were somehow no reported deaths.
Funso — unlike its weaker sibling before it or Dineo itself — was a monster of a storm.
For a brief period, the circling mass of cloud hit the equivalent strength of a Category 4 hurricane, with 220km/h wind gusts recorded at its peak intensity. Thankfully, the storm didn’t make direct landfall at that strength, but it did graze Mozambique and South Africa almost directly after Dando.
Reuters reported that this caused severe flooding and resulted in at least 25 deaths in the region.
Funso eventually made landfall in northern Mozambique.
The northern reaches of KwaZulu-Natal were evacuated, largely due to flooding. Some surfers still thought it would be a good idea to catch a wave or two though.
Irina resisted the temptation to come ashore, and instead dissipated in the Indian Ocean, almost three weeks after she was born.
Feature image: NASA Goddard MODIS Rapid Response Team