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FAQ

Q : Are there tornadoes in South Africa? A : Indeed there are, there are actually quite a few tornadoes which occur anually but due to the fact that unlike in the United States where there are chasers who target severe thunderstorms and report the tornadoes to authorities and weather agencies- South Africa does not really have dedicated chasers to report tornadic events and thus only tornadoes that do damage to structures or occur within populated areas get reported.  …

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Cape Town Weather

Currently there are a few features that I am looking at with interest, but first I’d like to touch on an exciting event for those of us in Cape Town, we had our first decent thunderstorms in almost a year. On Monday the 6th of February 2012 Cape Town received some pretty awesome little thunderstorms, What made them awesome wasn’t the fact that they were severe, because they were nothing close to being severe, but rather the nature of the cloud structures.…

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Funnel Cloud in Centurion

I received an email from William Vermaak in Centurion, Pretoria who managed to capture a funnel cloud during a heavy thunderstorm in the area. He said that the funnel began to dip a bit before becoming even more defined and stretching down, but then quickly going back up.…

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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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