STORM SURGE | Freak wave kills 93-year-old woman as it hits car park in Leentjiesklip in southern Cape
'Stay away from danger', says NRSI as it warns weather won't subside on Sunday
A 93-year-old woman died after a freak wave hit a parking area in Leentjiesklip in George in the southern Cape on Saturday when stormy weather battered the coastline.
"A 93-year-old female has sadly passed away. Our understanding is that she was swept off her feet by a wave that penetrated a car park, causing cars to be swept with that wave," said National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) spokesperson Craig Lambinon.
"One man was also injured. He was transported to hospital."
Lambinon warned that the very high and rough waves will continue to persist on Sunday, with a peak expected between 3pm and 6pm in the afternoon.
"The big concern is 3pm to about 5pm, 6pm today on Sunday. There's going to the potential of storm surges around our coastline, in part along the east coast but notwithstanding the west coast and the Western Cape coastline, the southern Cape coastline, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal."
The waves will start subsiding at 4-5.5m on Monday morning and to below 4m from late afternoon on MondayLelo Kleinbooi, meteorologist
"Stay away from danger."
South African Weather Service (Saws) meteorologist Lelo Kleinbooi said the storm surge was an abnormal volume of water accumulating against the coastline, manifesting as a raised sea level which can result in coastal flooding.
“The waves will start subsiding at 4-5.5m on Monday morning and to below 4m from late afternoon on Monday," the Gqeberha Saws meteorologist told HeraldLIVE.
"This happens when you have a deep or intense low-pressure system passing through, and in our case an intense cold-front which passed south of the country.
“This results in a tight pressure gradient which causes strong winds that enhance the sea state. Additionally, if you have a new or full moon with this, you will have a good chance of a storm surge as expected waves will be enhanced even further during high tide.
“It's called a spring tide, not because of the season, but because the water 'springs' higher and lower than when the sun and moon are at right angles to each other, causing less extreme tidal changes.”
Kleinbooi said the possible impacts of a storm surge include:
- damage to coastal infrastructure;
- potential modification of beaches and dunes, including beach erosion;
- vessels at sea taking on water and potentially capsizing; and
- a general disruption of beachfront activities.
In the Western Cape, areas such as Gordon's Bay, Three Anchor Bay, Sandy Bay and Still Bay were affected.
Lambinon said at Sandy Bay, the NSRI swiftly acted upon reports from eyewitnesses regarding a teenager on a bodyboard being trapped in rip currents. Before their arrival, the teen successfully extricated himself from the water without any issues.
At Three Anchor Bay, a 25-year-old man, from Johannesburg, found himself caught in rip currents but managed to rescue himself. Meanwhile, in Table Bay, a man was rushed to hospital due to hypothermia, but is expected to make a full recovery.
Videos widely circulated on social media show massive waves uprooting cars and even hitting patrons in a restaurant in Kalk Bay.
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