Severe thunderstorms are expected Saturday for parts of the North West, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Gauteng.
These conditions follow a severe storm of Friday evening, which led to heavy winds and hail in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. A tornado also swept through Utrecht in KwaZulu-Natal. The tornado left large parts of the Watervaal Correctional Services facility damaged, including 20 houses that were utilised by staff. Disaster management teams have been dispatched to the area.
A warning was issued for the severe thunderstorm at around 19:30 in the Amajuba and uMzinyathi Districts, which was then forecasted to move to Zululand. A severe storm developed between Newcastle and Dundee in KwaZulu-Natal on Friday evening and moved eastwards. This storm then changed its path north-east in the direction of Utrecht. This storm continued to move through the Utrecht area in a northerly to north-easterly direction but weakened about 20 km north of Utrecht.
The same storm then redeveloped and resulted in large amounts hail in parts of Mkhondo Local Municipality at around 23:30 on Friday night, before moving on to Piet Retief.
The South African Weather Service (SAWS) has warned that the thunderstorms will sweep over the eastern parts of North West province, eastern Free State, and in places over KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and southern Limpopo from Saturday afternoon.
SAWS’s Hannelee Doubell says that while heavy storms have been forecast, the SAWS is not able to forecast in advance when or where a tornado may occur.
A tornado is a rotating column of air extending from the cloud base of a cumuliform cloud and is in contact with the ground. These vortices can result in extensive damages and loss of life.
However, Doubell says, the SAWS is continuously monitoring the weather and will issue warnings ahead of tornados. She advised the public to consult the SAWS’s social media pages for updates.