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How Hurricanes Form

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Cape Town Flooding – 30 May 2011

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Durban Tropical Cyclone Hoax

So yesterday there was a hoax email that made it’s rounds through thousands of peoples inboxes it seems and from that found it’s way onto the radio where some radio DJs were also fooled by the hoax and spread the hoax on the air and only created more hype around this event. The truth is that there were strong winds and heavy rains present but none of this was due to tropical cyclones.

For future referrence let’s look at the facts.

Firstly should a cyclone be threatening the coast of South Africa, it would be talked about for 3-5 days ahead of time, tropical cyclones don’t just pop out of nowhere. The South African Weather Service would issue warnings and a press release ahead of time, not on the same day.

Secondly, the occurance of tropical cyclones hitting South Africa is rare and while it has occured in the past, there have been more hoaxes about tropical cyclones hitting the country than the country has actually even experienced- a media source earlier this year claimed a Cape Town storm was a hurricane. Sadly misinformation is spread through bad journalism often.

Thirdly, should there be a weather threat you are guaranteed to hear about it from a real weather source like the South African Weather Service, not some random site with no credibility. As far as I know the referrence to the site in the hoax email wasn’t even a valid site.

Lastly, if one reads about a specific extreme weather event about to occur- I suggest checking the forums on the site rather or the SAWS as we tend to be on top of any extreme conditions that threaten S.A and a cyclone would definitely be up there.

And as a word of advice, one should learn about the facts of severe weather to help make educated decisions on what conditions are real and what are not. Straight off the bat this was clearly a hoax for one easy reason- the tropical cyclone season has just started for this year and cyclone naming is alphabetical and there would have needed to be 17 previous tropical cyclones this year for a cyclone to be named an ‘R’ name if I recall correctly the hoax was about cyclone Roberta.

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