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Stoneways Marine 2021 - LEADERBOARD

Cyclone Belal strikes Réunion and then heads for Mauritius

by Daria Blackwell 16 Jan 05:44 UTC
Cyclone Belal as seen on WindGuru © Windguru

Cyclone Belal unleashes its force on Réunion Island, France, bringing winds reaching 170 km/h in Saint-Denis and then extreme flooding in Port Louis, Mauritius.

Heavy flooding hit Mauritius on Monday as a tropical cyclone closed in on the Indian Ocean island nation after battering the French overseas territory of Réunion. Vehicles were swept away, their drivers helpless and panicked, as shown in multiple videos circulating on social media networks.

One person was killed in Réunion, where the population of about 860,000 was ordered to shelter at home. Authorities in Réunion had raised the storm alert level to violet, the highest level, as the cyclone approached the island. The level was later dropped to red, allowing authorities to offer aid to affected residents. The storm circled the island, making landfall on the north and east coasts with winds gusting up to 250 km/h (155mph). Fortunately, the eye of the storm avoided the island. Nearly 130,000 households are reported to be without electricity and thousands were without running water on Monday. More than 600 people have been temporarily displaced.

Officials in Mauritius issued a level 3 warning (out of four levels) and advised the public to remain in a safe place, with "torrential rain conditions" expected in the coming hours. Severe flooding has been reported in advance of the storm's approach. Officials say the storm will pass to the south of Mauritius on Tuesday. Cyclonic sea swell of up to 12-15 metres (39-49 feet) is expected.

The cyclone may also impact Rodrigues Island later in the week.

About a dozen storms or cyclones occur each year in the southwest Indian Ocean during the November to April season. In February 2023, Mauritius was lashed by heavy rains and high winds from Cyclone Freddy, which caused a wave of death and destruction in southeastern Africa.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of the Ocean Cruising Club.

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