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Climate of the Limpopo River Basin: Cyclones

Cyclones are large-scale weather systems, or storms, extending between 150 and 1 000 km in diameter.  The tropical cyclones that strike the Indian Ocean coastline of Mozambique develop in the Southwest Indian Ocean Basin (Leira et al. 2002), a region responsible for approximately 10% of all tropical cyclones on earth. 

The map below illustrates the frequency of cyclone incidence over a period of 75 years from 1925 to 2000, including the tracks of some of the more recent storms.

Tropical cyclone frequency in southern Africa.
Source: Leira et al. 2002
( click to enlarge )

The table below shows the impacts of floods related to tropical cyclones from 1984 to 2000.

Table: Major tropical cyclones affecting the coastline of Mozambique between 1988 and 2000.

Name Year People Affected People Killed
Domoina 1984 350 000 109
Filao 1988 90 000 100
Nádia 1994 900 000 52
Bonita 1996 200 000 11
Lisette 1997 80 000 87
Eline 2000 650 000

700 killed by flooding
associated with  year
2000 cyclones

Gloria 2000 650 000
Hudah 2000 11 000
Source: Leira et al 2002


Tropical Cyclones and Floods

Tropical Cyclones often result in floods.  Floods are discussed in more detail in the Hydrology Chapter of the River Basin theme, but following are two examples of how cyclones resulted in severe floods in the Limpopo region.

Tropical Cyclone Demoina - 1984

This event resulted in significant loss of life (60 people died) and widespread damage to infrastructure and property.  600 mm of rain fell in 24 hours, resulting in widespread flooding that removed vast areas of topsoil and destroying roads, bridges and housing across the northeastern South Africa, southern Mozambique and Swaziland.

Tropical Cyclone Eline - 2000

High winds and torrential rains resulted in devastating floods and widespread damage to property and infrastructure all across the Limpopo River basin.  Much of the lower Limpopo River valley was flooded, innudating agricultural land and displacing thousands of people.

Source: FAO 2004