VANILLA ISLANDS UNDER SIEGE BY TROPICAL CYCLONE BEJISA
(Posted 03rd January 2014)
The Indian Ocean islands off the African mainland are being lashed by another tropical cyclone, this one named Bejisa, as this post is being published, described by some as one of the worst storms in recent times. Sully Chaffre, a professional tourist guide on the French island of Reunion whom I met in September last year during a weeklong tour of the island, in earlier communication wrote: ‘The weather conditions are clearly getting worse and worse…I haven’t seen the wind blowing such a way for ages!’ before late afternoon posting a video shot on his Facebook page, which was taken from his house and shows the worsening weather conditions the island is faced with as the centre of the storm is about to wash out the New Year spirit: (https://fbexternal-a.akamaihd.net/safe_image.php?d=AQDm17bvKEm4SZaA&url=https%3A%2F%2Ffbcdn-vthumb-a.akamaihd.net%2Fhvthumb-ak-frc3%2Fp280x280%2F1535254_10152500678530744_10152500614930744_47088_1197_b.jpg&jq=100)
The satellite image of the storm shows the extent of it as it approached Reunion, Mauritius, Madagascar and as a little further away from the core even Mayotte and the Comoros and even the outer Seychelles’ islands of the Amirantes group are bracing for the onslaught of rain and strong winds.
The storm is expected to reach the cyclone category 3 in Reunion, with top wind speeds of over 200 Km/hr while Mauritius is only slightly better off with a category 2 scale storm blowing across the island. Even as far away as the Seychelles islands, especially their islands closer to Madagascar than the main island of Mahe, like the UNESCO World Heritage Site Aldabra Atoll, are expected to receive massive rain and across the archipelago are storm warnings in place with government emergency services standing by, as they are in Mauritius, Reunion and the other islands. Evacuations of low laying areas on these islands have been put into place and in particular tourists been advised to stay in their hotels and resorts and NOT to go to the beaches where major swells up to 12 feet above normal could pose a serious danger to them. Air traffic is expected to be suspended during the height of the storm, causing flight delays in and out of the most affected island destinations.
With friends across many of these islands, best wishes to them all while standing by for updates in the morning at first light when the damage can be assessed and the count of the cost of this storm can begin. Watch this space.