Tornadoes, heatwaves and drier weather predicted for summer months
The SA Weather Service (SAWS) predicts frequent and intense severe thunderstorms that could develop into tornadoes
The country is likely to see more tornadoes as severe thunderstorms are predicted to be more frequent and intense, and the probability of more heatwaves is high in the coming summer months.
The SA Weather Service (Saws), hosted by the National Press Club, held a media briefing on Thursday to reflect on recent severe weather events.
This comes after the disastrous hailstorm on Monday left vehicles and property damaged in parts of Gauteng and Mpumalanga, with a tornado spotted in the latter province.
Tshepho Ngobeni, senior manager of disaster risk reduction at Saws, said the country is likely to experience more tornadoes due to a forecast of severe thunderstorms in the coming months.
This could also be linked to climate change and global warming, he said.
“The prediction is that they will be more frequent and intense. It means we are likely to see severe thunderstorms that might develop into tornadoes, according to global warming and climate change.”
However, what is of importance, is where the tornado occurs as it could cause more damage if it happened in an urban area.
“Where they occur matters most because if it occurs in Johannesburg, for example, which is highly populated, it will have an impact and people will see it. But the same tornado can occur in the Northern Cape and it can happen in open land and does not have an impact. There are a lot [of tornadoes] happening, but people don’t pick it up,” he said.
The country is again facing the El Niño event through the summer season into early autumn next year but will neutralise thereafter.
Such events mean warmer and drier periods over Southern Africa during the summer months, Ngobeni said.
“Temperature-wise, the likelihood for warmer than normal conditions is high, with the highest chance over the interior regions of [the country]. From this prediction, it can be inferred that there is a high chance of heatwaves over the interiors.”
As for the recent hailstorm that destroyed property and damaged cars, Ngobeni says the Saws had issued a warning on the day. He encouraged the public to be alert to weather updates to prepare for any severe weather conditions.
“It is advised that the public follows the monthly updates of the seasonal prediction as the El Niño event can still manifest itself and change the rainfall outlook to become below-normal. It is strongly advised to follow regular updates of the short-term weather forecasts as well as the observed climatic conditions,” he said.
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