NAIROBI: Forecasts say Tropical Cyclone Batsirai is increasing in intensity and is expected to pass north of the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius on Wednesday evening and make landfall in central Madagascar on Saturday afternoon.
The Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System says Batsirai has been upgraded and classified as Category 4. The system, a joint United Nations and the European Union Commission project, says the cyclone’s wind speed had increased to 231 kilometers per hour on Wednesday morning.
Madagascar’s meteorology directorate has warned seafarers and issued cyclone alerts in 16 districts projected to be in the storm’s path.
The GDACS forecasts that the cyclone has the potential to intensify in the next 48 hours, posing serious threats to Mauritius, Madagascar and the French overseas department of Reunion.
Southern Africa has anguished memories of the 2019 Cyclone Idai, which left a trail of destruction and deaths in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.
Batsirai follows the moderate Tropical Storm Ana that had formed a week earlier and has killed scores in Mozambique, Malawi and Madagascar.
The World Meteorological Organization late last year warned that Africa would face challenges including intense cyclones in the coming decades, noting that “the rates of sea level rise along the tropical and south Atlantic coasts and Indian Ocean are higher than the global mean rate."
The WMO says the 2022 cyclone season in the Indian Ocean is expected to end in April with the exception of the Seychelles and Mauritius, where it is expected to end in May.