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13 October 2011

Severe Thunderstorm Watch issued for the Eastern Cape ( 13 October 2011)

A severe thunderstorm watch has been issued by the SAWDIS for the Eastern Cape today. There is already activity in parts of the Eastern Cape that consist of  lightning and a few thundershowers.

This time of year, as the weather warms and many activities return outdoors, residents are urged to be alert for severe thunderstorms. The SAWDIS are urging people not to underestimate the potential for harm posed by a common spring or summer thunderstorm. Thunderstorms produce a variety of conditions, causing considerable damage to people and property — including damaging winds, hail, heavy rainfall and lightning.

Lightning is something that people really need to be concerned about.

This is true even though lightning is not always visible during a storm. People assume incorrectly that if they don’t see it, it is not there.

All thunderstorms, by definition, produce lightning. If you hear thunder, get inside and away from windows and doors.

A roof over one’s head such as bus stops, open taxi ranks, park shelters may not suffice. You need walls around you.

The SA Weather and Disaster Information Service (SAWDIS) is taking active measures to educate citizens of South Africa who may find themselves tempted to assume lightning risk is minimal in many parts of the country.

The simple message is: It is not worth it so when thunder roars go indoors!!

Statistics show that most lightning deaths occur under or near trees, and in open fields and lands.

If you are caught outside, try to get to a building. If not, a vehicle with closed windows is fairly safe. Although taking refuge in a metal structure ("Faraday cage") seems counter intuitive,lightning should safely conduct around the outside of a vehicle with no openings.

Another factor to consider, in addition to location, is timing.

Sometimes people do all these right things, but make the mistake of going back outside too soon. Do not judge the end of a storm by when rain stops falling. It is recommended to wait 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder to go outside.

SAWDIS Terms used to describe thunderstorm threats

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe thunderstorms are possible. Watch the sky and visit the SAWDIS Blog for more information. Be prepared to take shelter.

Severe Thunderstorm Observation: Severe thunderstorms are observed and will be approaching or are occurring.


Once again the SAWDIS would like to ask SAWDIS Weather and Disaster Observers and the Public to keep the SAWDIS informed of any severe weather approaching and building in their respected areas. Also provide the SAWDIS with images, photos and reports of storm damage.

Finally: Members of the public send in images on a regular basis to the SAWDIS. Some of these images are not published on the blog due to copy-right issues. However even if images are not published they are more than welcome as they form part of the SAWDIS database for research and record purposes. Please keep on sending information even if you feel that your efforts are all in vain and not recognized. Rest assure that all weather and disaster information is welcomed by the SAWDIS.