Severe storm unleashes giant hailstones and uproots trees in parts of South Africa
Gale-force winds of 74km/h pummelled large parts of KwaZulu-Natal on Friday evening, toppling trees, ripping homes and damaging cars
The storm – which was accompanied by heavy rain and, in parts of the Midlands, golf-ball-size hailstones – started in central and southern coastal parts of the province before hitting Durban and moving north.
The rain also interrupted the international cricket match between South Africa and the West Indies in Durban on Friday night, with viewers able to see the storm approaching from the game’s television visuals.
Rishaad Hoossain and his two passengers were lucky to escape when a large jacaranda tree, uprooted by the gale-force winds, crashed onto his Toyota Avanza as they were driving towards Florida Road, Durban’s popular restaurant hub.
A vehicle just in front of theirs was also hit, but was not as badly damaged.
Hoossain’s father, Haroon, said the entire tree had “completely covered” the car. “They managed to get out and stood on the side of the road in disbelief. All the branches had to be cut off to remove the tree from the car. They were lucky to be alive,” he said.
KZN Emergency Medical Rescue Services spokesman Robert McKenzie said that, at about 11pm, paramedics were called out to Nkandla after 10 houses were damaged. There were no reports of damage to the presidential compound. Two people were also taken to hospital after a lightning strike.
At Margate, on the south coast, three people were injured when thatched beachfront stalls collapsed in heavy winds. McKenzie said the three sustained minor injuries.
In Pietermaritzburg, hailstones damaged vehicles and smashed windows. Several trees, including one on the provincial capital’s main Langalibalele Street, were also blown over.
Yachts lost their moorings at the Tuzi Gazi waterfront in Richards Bay and at the Durban Yacht Mole. There was no major damage and the yachts were put into other moorings, said Craig Lambinon, spokesman for the National Sea Rescue Institute.
South African Weather Service meteorologist Stacy Colborne said the greater Durban area received 20mm of rain, less than the 50mm that is considered heavy rainfall. She attributed the inclement weather to an approaching cold front.
“It was not the rain but rather the wind that caused the damage. We had issued a warning for gale-force winds in the morning,” she said.
Colborne said winds had reached between 46km/h and 65km/h, with gusts as strong as 74km/h.
McKenzie said the disaster management teams and government agencies were on standby yesterday and would be doing full assessments to determine which areas needed assistance.
Jaimie White, 10 looks at the golf ball sized hail she collected in her garden in Scottsville , Pietermaritzburg after the storm on Friday evening
Courtesy of Times Live