PMB runs for cover as unexpected hailstorm hits

2010-10-29 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG found itself in the grips of an unexpected hailstorm yesterday, followed by erratic cloud bursts and strong winds that had people running for cover.

While morning weather forecasts warned of 30% rainfall, no hailstorm warnings were issued and many were caught unawares.

Thobani Ngqulunga had just bought airtime at the Caltex garage opposite McDonalds in Commercial Road when the hailstorm struck.

“Things just turned chaotic,” he said as he described a scene in which pedestrians and motorists clamoured for the sheltered garage to seek refuge from hail pellets and strong winds.

“Petrol attendants didn’t know whether to attend to customers or not and service ground to a halt,” he said.

Lloyd Burnard said Port Shepstone “had four seasons in one day” as they experienced sunshine, heavy showers, dense cloud cover and strong winds throughout.

Even Facebook was abuzz yesterday afternoon as people took to their various online social networks to share their storm experiences.

Some posted status updates read as follows:

• Tasha Leigh Armitage — awesome bout of hail;-) the kids got wild.... [sic]

• Londile Dladla — hail in durban north! ths is so cool, havent seen hail in years [sic]

• S’fundo Nzama — The weather! Argh! Heard there’s a Hail storm in PMB! Shame [sic]

• Tha Runa — Just ran through hail. Adrenalin rush. Soaked. Got hit on head by marble-sized hail thing. Wow that was fun. Again. Again. :p [sic]

• Nhlanhla Zuluking Mathe — From clear skies to a thunder storm in under five minutes. well done Durban. [sic]

Contacted soon after the storm, Msunduzi’s fire rescue and disaster management manager Billy Paton said they had yet to receive any requests for assistance.

However, Paton said that, should any calls for assistance come through, they would go out and do individual assessments before making a decision on how to proceed.

“You sort of find out after the fact. By [today] we will have a better idea,” said Paton.

As of late yesterday afternoon it was still too early to say how much rain and hail had fallen on the coastal and inland regions, said forecas­ter Siyabonga Mthethwa.

He said some coastal areas were likely to experience thunderstorms until late yesterday as the weather system moved across land and out towards the sea.

“By [today] the entire system will have moved off to the sea,” Mthethwa said.

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