Strong wind rattles city

2017-09-19 13:45
Disaster management teams count costs after gale-force winds reach 75 km/h.

Disaster management teams count costs after gale-force winds reach 75 km/h. (Supplied)

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After the strong gales that gusted up to 75 km per hour in Pietermaritzburg, disaster management teams were on Tuesday sent out to various areas to count the costs of the storm damage.

The city was shaken by the wind storm on Saturday afternoon following gale-force winds which occurred on the South Coast of KZN.

The strong winds hit the city “without warning” between 4 pm and 6 pm on Saturday after a low-pressure weather system hit the South Coast of the province.

As people ran for cover, trees were uprooted and branches torn off trees. Some people reported windows being smashed as a result of the gusts.

University of KwaZulu-Natal Agrometeorology Professor Mike Savage said although the gale-force winds were expected for the South Coast and eThekwini regions, the howling winds had “not really been expected” to affect Pietermaritzburg.

With reports of fallen trees, collapsed roofs, electricity outages and other structural damage, Savage said while unexpected, these types of winds are not uncommon for this time of year, especially when temperatures go from high to low over a short number of days.

He said while similar winds are not expected for the future, the city should prepare for berg winds and rain over the next few weeks.

South African Weather Services forecaster Thandiwe Gumede said the gale-force winds on the coast and the strong winds within Pietermaritzburg were a result of a low-pressure weather system off the South Coast followed by a surface high, creating a steep pressure gradient which aggravated the winds.

She said there had been an alert issued for the interior of the province for veld fires and for such an alert to be issued, there had to be a prediction of strong winds which could cause runaway fires.

She said the winds recorded for Pietermaritzburg on Saturday afternoon averaged at 40 km per hour with a high of 75 km per hour.

Margate experienced winds of up to 118 km per hour, while King Shaka International Airport weather station and Pennington reported winds of up to 111 km per hour.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said that their disaster management team responded to various regions within the city where people had lost the roofs of their homes and mud houses had collapsed.

She said the team provided tents and food to the affected areas.

'City had high volume of calls'

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha said their municipal call centre received over 446 recorded calls over the weekend.

“The call centre was not down, however, there was a big influx of calls and many customers were agitated,” she said.

Mafumbatha added that the areas in the city that had reported electricity outages had all been restored.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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