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Wavescape - Surfing in South Africa

Tue, 16 January 2018

A bumper cyclone season lies ahead as already the 2nd cyclone of 2018 Berguitta goes like the clappers east of Madagascar, and prepares to slam into Mauritius and Reunion.


OCEAN FACE: Reunion and Mauritius are in the firing line from tonight. Photo Windy.com

Berguitta, who packs a central pressure of 988mb and winds gusting more than 100 knots, will hit La Reunion and Mauritius tomorrow with severe winds and rain. The damage looks intense for the two Indian Ocean islands as she tracks WSW towards them today.

According to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls, Berguitta "may reach the equivalent of a Category 4 hurricane" today, or "very intense tropical cyclone" status, which is the most severe in the SW Indian Ocean.

Rainfall could hit 300 or even 400mm on Mauritius and Reunion tonight and tomorrow, with mudslides and generally hectic weather. Reunion looks set for far greater damage than caused by Cyclone Ava on January 4-6th when 400mm of rain fell in parts. You can imagine what the islanders are in for over the next 24 hours if this is going to be more severe.


MAD RAIN: This is the predicted rainfall for Reunion over the next three days. Photo Windy.com

Mercifully for Madasgacar, Berguitta will track increasingly south, dipping towards the SE tip of the big island by Thursday, before she moves into the open ocean below the island late on Friday, skirting the east coast without making landfall. Cyclone Ava chewed up the island's east coast with winds up to 190 km/h, which resulted in 51 deaths, 22 missing persons and more than 54,000 people displaced.

As Berguitta noses out from behind Madasgascar late Friday into Saturday, her beady eye will be about 1,000 miles from Durban slightly north of east. The swell that hits the east coast will start as east windswell on Friday, morphing into a punchy 6-8 foot east swell with building period on Saturday all the way into the Eastern Cape although the far west (PE to Plett) may only get some action from Tuesday.

The peak of the swell in KwaZulu-Natal arrives on Sunday (travel time two days from first peekage Friday) with sets that look set to reach 10 foot at 15 second periods. The limiting factor for this swell is fetch distance. Everything else is in the red zone for big swell.


BERGUITTA BOMB: Berguitta packs a powerful 985mb at her centre on Friday. Photo Windy.com

Sadly, NE onshore blasts right across the peak of the east swell in KZN, with the next westerly offshore in KZN only expected next Thursday, when the swell is waning fast. The first part of the swell in the Eastern Cape will also be messed up by the NE this weekend, but offshores next week will coincide with the latter stages of the swell when direction is more optimum anyway.

That is because Berguitta will track SSE over the weekend, reaching a point 1,200 nautical miles due east of Port Elizabeth in the early hours of Sunday - a much better swell window for the southern coastline of SA west of East London.

From Tuesday next week, a more east to SE component of the swell will reach further west (unlike the damp squib produced by Ava - long period doesn't always mean size!). This is nicely timed for the arrival of westerly offshores between Monday and Thursday.


GALE X 3: Some wind gusts will be three times stronger than galeforce. Photo Windy.com

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