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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.
Q : Where about in South Africa do tornadoes form?
A : While they have the potential to occur anywhere within South Africa, generally the hotspot provinces are Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal, Free State, Eastern Cape, North West Province and Mpumalunga. The Western Cape have had a few tornadoes reported over the past 50 years but are far outnumbered by those that occur further up country.
Q : How big is storm chasing in South Africa?
A : Sadly it is almost non-existent, which is one of my reasons for creating this website. To help the exposure of storm chasing within South Africa. There are probably under 5 chasers in the country with less than 50 weather spotters. There are a also a handful of people interested in severe weather but not with enough passion to take it further into chasing. Unlike the United States where storm chasing is a known activity throughout much of the population, majority of South Africa don’t know what storm chasing entails and are quite oblivious to the severe weather occurrences.There most certainly is the opportunity though.
Update: Since the launch of this website I am pleased to say there are a bit more interested in storm chasing than originally thought, so while the number of chasers in the country may be as large as 10 – 15, only a small minority of these are dedicated chasers who plan storm chasing and most will sometimes just drive a few kilometers when a storm is near.
Q : Is storm chasing dangerous?
A : Yes, it can be. Depending on where one is chasing, in the Western Cape for example, storm chasing is not very dangerous due to the lack of tornadic potential. While up country chasing severe storms can be a potentially deadly activity. The main factors one has to consider when storm chasing is cover from hail and safe distance from tornadoes. Chasing a potentially tornadic storm should only be done by those who have a clear understanding of the scientific aspects of storm cell behaviour.
Q : Does South Africa get hurricanes?
A : Well firstly hurricanes in the Southern Indian Ocean (off the east coast of South Africa) are named tropical cyclones, and while not many cyclones have made landfall in South Africa we do get some close calls and often feel the effects of the cyclones which usually include extremely heavy rainfalls as well as very strong winds.
Q : What is the difference between a Storm Chaser and a Storm Spotter?
A : The difference between a storm spotter and a storm chaser is that spotters do not generally leave their location in search of storms and rather report weather events which occur near their homes. Where as chasers will sometimes drive a thousand kilometers in a day in search of the best conditions for storm development.
Q : What is the future for storm chasing in South Africa?
A : It can only get better. Since Discovery Channel launched it’s Storm Chasers series, there has been a marked increase in storm chasing interest from all over the world and South Africa is no different. I have been seeing far more interest in storm chasing and severe weather lately in South Africa than before. And my hope is to eventually develop a site that is able to bring the entire community together successfully to share their experiences and their media.
If you have any severe weather related questions feel free to email them to me at : email@example.com – And I will be sure to respond.