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Cape of (April) Storms

Last week saw a trough approach the Western Cape from the west with some very cold polar air aloft. It was from an early stage that this system would have the possibility for thunderstorm development, CAPE values were forecast to remain low but there were some positive (well… negative) LI numbers coming out of the model outputs.…

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Storms to Come!

After what can only be described as a dull summer severe weather wise for majority of the Western Cape it seems as though something exciting may be on the door step, a cut-off low pressure system is forecast to develop from a steep upper air trough and position itself over the Western Cape, bringing very interesting conditions to the surrounding areas.…

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Duduza, East Rand Tornado!

Following hot on the heels of the Ficksburg tornado incident, there are now pictures coming through on social networking sites of a large, strong tornado which apparently hit Duduza in the East Rand earlier this evening. I cannot comment on the validity of the claims but the pictures look to be real, despite their low quality, likely due to being captured on a cell phone.…

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How Hail is Formed

The process of how hail is formed is not an unusual one. The easiest way to think of it, is to think of the sky as a vertical gradient which gets colder as you ascend (though this is not always the case if there is an inversion), but let us assume for this example that the air gets colder the higher you go.…

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How Hurricanes Form

This is the first part of how hurricanes are formed, updates or additions may be made in the future. Hurricanes, tropical cyclones, typhoons- Whatever you want to call them, these storms are some of the most destructive in the world. They are called hurricanes when they occur in the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and Eastern Pacific and typhoons when they occur in Northwest Pacific, while when these storms occur in the Indian ocean they are referred to as tropical cyclones.…

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Glossary of Terms

Beaufort Scale The Beaufort scale is used to estimate wind damage in the same way tornadoes winds are mostly measured, by assessing the damage present. Wind speed (km/h) Designation Description < 2                            calm                          smoke rises vertically, trees do not move 2-5                             light air                      smoke drift indicates wind direction 6-11                           light breeze                weather vane moves, leaves rustle 12-19                         gentle breeze              leaves and twigs in constant motion 20-29                         moderate breeze         dust and loose paper raised, small branches move 30-38                         fresh breeze               small trees sway 39-50                         strong breeze             large branches move, wind whistles wires 51-61                         moderate gale           whole trees move, walking affected 62-74                         fresh gale                  twigs brake of trees, walking difficult 75-86                         strong gale                slight structural damage occurs, branches break 87-100                       whole gale                 trees uprooted, considerable structural damage 101-118                     storm                        widespread damage 119+                         hurricane                   severe and extensive damage Bow Echo A bow echo is another possible tornado signiture which can sometimes form along a squall line.…

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Becoming a Spotter

For those unsure of what a weather spotter/storm spotter does, they are like storm chasers but do not actively hunt down severe storms but rather report any severe weather which occurs in their location to the appropriate weather information centre. For South Africa this would be the South African Weather Service, the SAWS does urge residents to report back severe weather events such as damaging winds, hail, tornadoes, floods etc.…

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