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CYCLONES IN MAURITIUS

“Cyclones and cyclone warning are very common in Mauritius, most pass the island or disperse without affecting it in any way, some come close and cause damage, however, Mauritius has been experiencing Cyclones for centuries and is, therefore not just used to these events occurring but its people are equipped with the knowledge and expertise to navigate through the cyclone's storm when and if it does come".

"Below you will find information on Mauritius cyclones and their history. I hope this doesn't put you off coming as they are infrequent but they do happen."

 

Karen

INTRODUCTION
Mauritius Cyclone

CYCLONES -
A WAY OF LIFE

What's the difference between cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons?

They are all the same thing, they just have different names depending on where in the world you come from.

Over the years I've lived here, the threat of cyclones and anti-cyclones (the difference explained below) during the cyclone season between mid-December through March, has become the 'norm'. In fact, as I write this section into the website, Mauritius has just had cyclone Emnati where the highest gusts recorded were 133km/h in Champ de Mars, north of the island. This took place over the weekend and reached a level of class 4 (out of 5) in severity and only three weeks since the previous cyclone Batsirai, another class 4 passing close to the north of the island. 

As discussed in the 'Climate' section of our topics, the seasons in Mauritius are as follows. According to the Met Office, Mauritius temperatures rarely fall below 17 °C, or exceed 31 °C, however, Mauritius has some very humid months and above-average humidity throughout the year. The least humid month is September (68.8% relative humidity), and the most humid month is February (76.8%).

A WAY OF LIFE

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CYCLONE  PREPARATION

If you are staying in a hotel, you need not panic as all hotels on the island should be prepared for the event of a cyclone. You’ll be taken care of and regularly briefed by the hotels’ staff.

 

If you are in an Air BnB or self-catering, many Mauritian properties have been fitted with storm shutters for windows and generators if there are any powering outages.  

 

Here are some tips that may help you:

 

  • secure doors and windows

  • keep a portable battery-powered electric lamp, candles and matches at hand

  • make note of the telephone numbers of your local contact(s) and those of your neighbours if possible. Don’t hesitate to contact them in case of emergency. 

  • store sufficient amount of freshwater, canned food, bread, biscuits, cheese, fresh milk, etc.

 

Having experienced a number of cyclones now, I understand that Mauritius and the Mauritian people are very much prepared for the events and they are in fact part of everyday life on the island. Because of this, I don't worry about the cyclones themselves as everyone is given plenty of warning to prepare, 'batten down the hatches and sit the storm out.

Life afterward very quickly returns to normal as the Mauritian people are so used to clearing away any damage the cyclone has left behind.

PREPARATION
Image by Neenu Vimalkumar

MAURITIUS SUMMER - NOVEMBER-APRIL

These are the hottest and wettest months, with temperatures peaking at an average of 30.1 °C in both January and February, and with February being the wettest month with an average of 253 mm rainfall. These months are also quite humid but are also the sunniest.

 

There is a large difference in rainfall across the island, with the east coast and central plateau catching the lion's share of the wet weather, whilst the more sheltered west coast is much drier.

 

The later summer months are also the main cyclone season for Mauritius. Fortunately, the chances of a cyclone passing over the island are remote, with most cyclones remaining at sea and eventually dissipating as they travel west and south.

Class I:

Issued 36 to 48 hours before the likelihood of gusts reaching 120 kilometers (km) per hour.

At this stage, there is no disruption in the daily routines of the population.

Class II:

Issued so as to allow, as far as practicable, 12 hours of daylight before gusts reaching 120 kilometers (km) per hour.

Class III:

Issued so as to allow, as far as practicable, 6 hours of daylight before gusts reaching 120 kilometers (km) per hour.

Class IV:

When gusts of 120 kilometers (km) per hour have been recorded and expected to be recurrent a cyclone warning class IV is issued.

If you are not used to raging tempests, the ferocious whistling of the winds and splashing rains – especially during a pitch dark night when the power supply is disconnected – can be quite a scary experience.

CYCLONE SEASON
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CYCLONE CLASSIFICATION

Title
Characterisitics
ID
CLASSIFICATIONS
Image by Johannes Plenio

HISTORY OF CYCLONES IN MAURITIUS

There is a long history of cyclones in Mauritius with some of earliest recording going back to the early 1800s. With there being too many to list and most not being very intense the top 10 strongest to date where:

  • 5th Feb 1975 - Intense Cyclone Gervaise - Over Mauritius - 280Km/h gusts

  • 29th Feb 1960 - Intense Cyclone Carol - Over Mauritius - 256Km/h gusts

  • 28th Feb 1962 - Intense Cyclone Jenny - 30Km North - 235Km/h gusts

  • 22nd Jan 2002 - Very Intense Tropical Cyclone Dina - 30Km North - 228Km/h gusts

  • 23rd Dec 1979 - Intense Cyclone Claudette - Over Mauritius - 221Km/h gusts

  • 5th Feb 1975 - Intense Cyclone Danielle - 40Km SW - 219Km/h gusts

  • 29 April Feb 1892 - First recorded Cyclone - 216Km/h gusts - LINK BELOW

  • 11th Feb 1994 - Intense Cyclone Hollanda - 20km NW - 216Km/h gusts

  • 13th Mar 1980 - Intense Cyclone Laure - 30Km NE - 201Km/h gusts

  • 20th Jan 1960 - Intense Cyclone Alix - 30K, off Port Louis - 200Km/h gusts

HISTORY

CHECK OUT SOME CYCLONES

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