Disaster teams on high alert for wind

2015-06-05 07:26
The East Coast expects winds of nearly 100?km/h today. Lissa Ghela and Kailene Pillay watch strong winds blow over the city yesterday.

The East Coast expects winds of nearly 100?km/h today. Lissa Ghela and Kailene Pillay watch strong winds blow over the city yesterday. ( Amil Umraw)

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KWAZULU-NATAL disaster management teams have been placed on high alert as gale force winds sweep across the province.

Coastal areas like Durban and Richards Bay were expected to bear the brunt of the strong winds expected last night and this morning.

The SA Weather Service said high seas with wave heights from six to nine metres are expected across the province’s coastal areas.

“Our teams will be on high alert right through this week until these winds relent. We have seen in the Midlands that strong winds have caused major damage with trees being uprooted and the wind ripping through roof tops,” said MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nomusa Dube-Ncube, in a statement yesterday.

She said their teams were already on the ground assessing the damage.

“We also call upon residents to be cautious at all times when starting fires and our special appeal goes to motorists to refrain from disposing of cigarette butts through windows of cars as strong winds are likely to spark runaway fires that could cause damage running to millions of rands.”

The winds swept across the ­Midlands yesterday, causing damage to property and businesses. The Cascades branch of Virgin Active Gym was allegedly damaged on Wednesday. A manager on duty at the gym would not comment and said he was not allowed to speak to the media.

The strong winds also put the brakes on the 53rd Art in the Park held at the Alexander Park yesterday, which was closed because of the huge gusts there.

“This is unprecedented for this exhibition and the decision was taken as a safety precaution to protect both exhibitors and the public,” said Dumisani Mhlongo, director for the Msunduzi Pietermaritzburg Tourism Association.

He added that the show will resume today at the usual time of 10 am, and where possible exhibition hours will be extended.

Durban Weather Forecaster Aslam Sardiwalla said strong winds up to 40 knots are expected along the coastline of KZN. “We are not saying the winds will bring down buildings or uproot trees, but we are saying people should be very careful,” he said.

Simon Thomas, the operations manager of the KZN Fire Protection Services, warned that people should not start any fires they cannot control.

He said their firefighters are trained and refreshed for the fire season, “and the planes are on stand-by”.

Andre Horner, chief provincial ­inspector at RTI, said they had to stack the trucks on Van Reenen’s Pass because of the wind. N3 Toll Concession reported winds of 105 km/h on Van Reenen’s early yesterday.

“The road has been open throughout. The situation may change [today] because of snowfalls expected on the Drakensberg mountains.”

According to Snow Report, there were light snowfalls around the Drakensberg.

An official at the Sani Pass Mountain Lodge said the snow was very light and did not fall for long. The SA weather service did not expect any snow for today

Read more on:    pietermartizburg  |  wind

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