Tornado Mthatha 2

Photo: Supplied

Mthatha tornado: Cars ‘tossed into the air’ by freak weather event

The Eastern Cape town of Mthatha faces a serious rebuilding job, after an EF3 tornado ripped through large settlements earlier this week.

Tornado Mthatha 2

Photo: Supplied

The South African Weather Service (Saws) has confirmed that a tornado hit Mthatha, Eastern Cape on Tuesday 17 November. Multicell thunderstorms battered the region, and high winds compounded the freak conditions. After assessing the damage to buildings, cars, and homes over the past 24 hours, the rebuilding work is now thoroughly underway.

Eastern Cape battered by extreme weather conditions

The clockwise spin associated with the tornadic vortex ended up ripping roofs off of various properties, as trees were uprooted and vehicles were reportedly ‘thrown into the air’. Saws have categorised this tornado as an EF3 event, based on the trail of destruction that was left behind. The local airport was also badly affected by this extreme event.

On Thursday, a team of government officials from the Human Settlements department – led by Lindiwe Sisulu – arrived in Mthatha, to visit the families who were worst affected by the tornado. No deaths or serious injuries have been reported.

Full statement from Saws on the Mthatha tornado

“The multicell thunderstorms travelled to the east and during the following three hours travelled almost 280km from Graaf-Reinet to Bofolo (nearly half-way from Queenstown to Mthatha), while an intensifying storm (located south of Burgersdorp) moved for about 78 km to the south-east. A secondary merger began to take place, further intensifying the storm.”

“Shortly after yet another change of storm movement, very high winds from the enhanced multicell storm resulted in damage to homes, vehicles and the nearby airport, while also uprooting trees and resulting in heavy downpours which led to localized flooding.”

“The impacts as evidenced by the photographs and the short distance travelled between 17:00 and 18:00 SAST strongly suggest that there was an EF3 tornado. The storm is rated as an EF2 to EF3 tornado because of the supporting damage: torn-off roofing sheets, peeling of roofs at the corners, and evidence of cars being thrown in the air.”

Saws statement