Cyclone warning for Mauritius with heavy rains and flood expected

A satellite photograph showing the cyclone nearing Mauritius and Reunion Island

A Tropical Cyclone, Berguitta, is intensifying in the southern Indian Ocean and is likely to have a major impact on both Mauritius and Reunion.

Satellite photos shows a huge storm in the Indian Ocean right next to Mauritius. The Island did not see any major cyclones for more than a decade.

The last Category 3 equivalent storm to hit the island was Cyclone Hollande in February 1994 which killed two people, destroyed 450 homes, and caused $135m in damage.

There remains a great deal of uncertainty regarding the track of Berguitta as it is currently over open water, but forecasts suggest it will track very slowly towards the southwest, striking Mauritius around 00:00GMT on Thursday. But it may be weakened by the time it reaches the shores of Mauritius.

At 09:00 GMT on Monday, Berguitta was the equivalent of a Category 1 storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson scale, with sustained winds of 140km per hour (km/h). Wave heights of more than seven metres were also observed.

As Berguitta continues to feed off the warm waters of Indian Ocean, it will intensify into the equivalent of a Category 3 system, with sustained winds of 185km/h.

Although winds from these cyclones attract news headlines, it is often the storm surges, flooding and mudslides which result in the greatest loss of life.

Rainfall could again be the major weapon in Berguitta’s arsenal, as it is moving at barely walking pace, allowing it to drop much more rain than a faster moving system, said weather forecasts.

In the last few weeks, a large section of Mauritius was soaked under water with heavy rain outpouring over the Island. It is part of the monsoon season, but the rainfall was the heaviest seen in the country for sometime.

It caused floods and running water over highways, streets and homes in parts of the Island.