So it seems once again South Africans find themselves on
Dineo made landfall on Wednesday evening near Inhambane. The storm was weaker than forecast during landfall, though still had enough power to cause moderate to severe wind damage to areas in Mozambique. Mozambique’s National Emergency Operations were quoted saying that 20 000 homes destroyed and 130 000 displaced from the storm, with that there were also 7 fatalities related to the storm at the time of publication.
Emergency officials in Mozambique are working to provide temporary housing and food for those affected by the storm, though if the figure of displaced residents is correct, this task could prove tough.
The now mostly dissipated storm brought storm surge, strong winds and severe rains to areas in its immediate path after landfall. Within 24 hours of landfall the rainfall rate associated with the storm had declined, though still posed a threat for isolated flooding and subsequent flood damage. The storm would also bring rainfall to parts of South Africa, with some heavy flooding in parts of Limpopo Province and Mpumalanga. These reports of heavy rain coincide with what the model guidance was suggesting before landfall took place. Strong winds associated with the storm were also reported from areas in Limpopo Province, which is to be expected given that the path was just north of the province.
There is still a risk for heavy rains associated with the storm over the course of the next couple days, rainfall values look to be lower than what they have been in the past 36 hours, but will primarily be over Botswana. The storms remnants look to become fully dissipated by late Saturday. Flooding potential will still exist through today Friday for parts of Limpopo and Mpumalanga province.
Graskop in Mpumalanga reported 166mm of rain yesterday through to this morning, which was the highest value for South Africa. While this is enough to cause flooding, it should be emphasized that South Africa has mostly been spared by the storm, and it is not uncommon to see in excess of 500mm of rain from tropical cyclones in a 24 hour period.
Finding The Truth
During these events social media tends to buzz, but often with half truths or complete lies. And while running through Twitter, I noticed many false alerts and stories on Dineo, ranging from the storm being forecast to hit Johannesburg, to video footage posted showing storms from other countries in previous years being titled Dineo.
While it is true that areas may receive gusty winds today in association with Dineo, majority of this wind is due to the basic pressure gradient seen due to the proximity of the low pressure that is Dineo. But these winds could easily be felt in a case of a general cut-off low, and it would be inaccurate to describe the conditions as the storm ‘hitting’ Johannesburg, a term typically reserved for when a storm’s primary circulation passes over an area.
Our opinions as storm chasers with severe weather interests are not always perfect, and we will always recommend using an official weather agency when a storm has the potential to affect your life. With that said, the degree to which the falsehoods being spread on social media go, is an extreme. Thankfully the people over at TimesLive have also now released a video attempting to remove the incorrect notion put forward by people that particular media footage was related to Dineo.
Here’s some examples of false statements being shared on social media.
THESE ARE NOT TRUE
“STORM WARNING!!! Be advised that the department of meteorology in South Africa has issued a statement confirming the storm (Dineo) will be hitting South Africa, Johannesburg and Jhb south as of tonight. The estimated speed is between 30 -90km/h. This wind can damages house, cars and any other property including nature. This storm also comes with heavy rains that may cause heavy floodings. They have since recommended suspension of classes, less movement, close windows and doors make sure your structure is stable, or solicit shelter from neighbours, no crossing of over flooded rivers and also avoid being close to powerlines.”
if ufuna ingubo enamehlo nangu u #Dineo— Nelson Mahlangu (@nelson_mahlangu) February 17, 2017
And then there are countless other tweets and facebook posts which suggest that Dineo will cause significant damage to Johannesburg tonight. The primary effects of the storm have already been felt in the northern parts of Limpopo and Mpumalanga. But now the storm is moving west and will certainly not be causing any devastation to Johannesburg. If you are ever worried about a severe storm, it is worth visiting the South African Weather Service’s alerts page, before relying on unknown social media reports.