Tornado KZN

Photo: Twitter screenshot

KZN tornado: Four things to know as Eskom confirm disruptions

New Hanover saw something ripped straight from a Hollywood blockbuster on Tuesday. Here’s what we know about the tornado that tore through KZN.

Tornado KZN

Photo: Twitter screenshot

It’s not every day a massive tornado leaves a trail of destruction in South Africa – but nor does it happen once in a blue moon. Residents in the KZN Midlands were left shocked when they saw the destructive power of nature up close and personal near New Hanover on Tuesday afternoon. So, what’s the score?

KZN tornado – latest news and essential knowledge:

Basic information

  • Where? – New Hanover, in the KZN Midlands.
  • When? – Just after 16:00 on Tuesday afternoon.
  • Damage? – A local sub-station has been hit, properties and homes have been flattered, two people are dead.

A history of tornadoes in South Africa

These things really aren’t as uncommon as we think. There have been dozens of South Africa tornado events in 2019 alone, but capturing them on video is a rarity – especially when our tornadoes are usually quite weak.

The first recorded instance was in 1905, but there have been a couple of these ‘whirlwind’ weather displays in KZN earlier this year. A waterspout was spotted in Durban back in April – at the height of the tragic flood which killed dozens – and another tornado was reported in rural Newcastle.

Is it a tornado?

Now, there was an off-chance the South African Weather Service would reclassify this event. They took their time to confirm this was a tornado despite it’s apparently-obvious features. The professionals analysed the event, and eventually agreed with several storm-chaser crews and weather-watchers who earlier stated this was an “official” tornado.

It’s all very similar to the “tremor-that-wasn’t-an-earthquake” Durban had a few weeks ago. Tornadoes generally have to meet to these criteria to officially earn their name:

  • They have to spin at around 110mp/h
  • Most are at least 80-feet across
  • Generally must travel by more than 1.6 miles (or 2.8 kilometres)
  • They are distinguished as vertical funnels of rapidly spinning air, caused by humid conditions.

How Eskom have been affected

It wouldn’t be a news story without Eskom getting involved. But with one of their sub-stations taking a hit, the power has gone out in some parts of KZN. They issued the following statement this evening:

“Eskom infrastructure was affected by the storm near Pietermaritzburg. It was the Mersey sub-station, which lead to the Mpolweni site to to trip. Emergency teams are assessing the damage. Customers in Mpolweni are likely to experience power interuptions.”