Tornado classed as F2

2011-10-04 00:00

THE tornado that cut through homes in Duduza township, near Nigel on the East Rand, on Sunday was classified as a F2 tornado.

The SA Weather Service said a team of scientists visited the area yesterday to classify the tornado based on the damage it caused.

Tshepo Ngobeni, senior meteorologist, said the F2 tornado was between 50 and 75 metres wide and between 15 and 20 km high.

“The Duduza tornado, which ripped roofs off homes and destroyed walls, is classified as an F2 according to the Fujita scale,” said Ngobeni.

Meteorologists classify tornados on the Fujita scale from F0 (relatively weak) to F5 (very strong) depending on the damage it causes to human buildings.

Wind speeds in a F2 tornado typically reach between 181 km/h and 253 km/h.

Ngobeni said staff in the Bloemfontein weather office are working to determine the strength of the storm that wreaked havoc in Ficksburg in the Free State at the weekend.

“We cannot yet confirm officially whether is was a tornado, but we are busy with the assessment,” he said.

Another meteorologist, William Msimanga, said tornadoes are extremely difficult to predict, but that the weather service had issued warnings of possibly severe thunderstorms over southern Gauteng and the East Rand at the weekend.

He said the upper air trough, which has been moving over the eastern part of South Africa since Saturday, brought with it good rains and several thunderstorms.

Lightning killed two people near Estcourt, while heavy hail destroyed maize crops in some parts of Gauteng and the North West.

Msimanga said there is a small chance of afternoon rain over Gauteng and surrounding areas today, but predicted no more rain for the rest of the week.

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