Weather wreaking havoc: Hailstorm is just the beginning
Monday night's hailstorm wreaks havoc in Midrand and Johannesburg, with reports of hailstones the size of golf balls.
Workers look at a signpost impailed on a traffic sign in Kyalami after a large hailstorm hit the area yesterday, 14 November 2023. Picture: Neil McCartney / The Citizen
As people begin to count the cost of Monday night’s massive hail storm which lashed Midrand, Kyalami and parts of Johannesburg, the South African Weather Service has warned of more possible heavy weather in the coming months.
The predictions are not confined to extreme wet weather.
Drier and warmer conditions from October to March
“The El Nino-Southern Oscillation (Enso) is currently in an El Nino state and, according to the latest predictions, is expected to persist through most of the summer,” said the service’s Lehlohonolo Thobela.
“Enso’s typical impact on Southern Africa is [of] generally drier and warmer conditions from October to March.
“However, current global forecasts indicate a great deal of uncertainty for the typical drier conditions South Africa experiences during typical El Nino seasons, in particular over the eastern parts of the country,” said Thobela.
“Weather extremes will continue to occur from time.”
Kyalami resident thought Jukskei River was flooding
Michael Zagabe, who lives next to the Jukskei River in Kyalami, said he initially thought the river was flooding.
“It sounds the same, but it’s not. Then the first stone fell and then the next until there were too many,” he said.
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Zagabe said he was worried the hailstones would damage his friend’s car, so he ran in the storm with blankets to cover the vehicle.
“The storm was bad and it wasn’t easy. Imagine, it’s the first time I see this stone falling from above. It fell from the sky and nearly landed on my head, so I ran and hid,” he said.
Zagabe said the hail was about 30 centimetres deep.
“Yoh! I was scared, so I just ran because it didn’t really rain, it was just hail,” he exclaimed.
Tornado sighted in Mpumalanga
In Mpumalanga, a tornado was sighted. Vox Weather meteorologist Annette Botha said the severe storm had strengthened into a supercell which had caused a tornado in Bethel, creating hailstones as big as golf balls.
“It is not uncommon for these types of storms to turn severe, especially this time of year over the northeastern parts,” she said.
Botha said these types of storms could produce hail during spring due to the rapid change in temperature from the surface to the upper level.
“We are seeing the number of tornadoes and the severity of thunderstorms rising due to the rise in temperatures,” she said.
Pretoria East-based insurance broker Mary-Ann Heck said she had only received one claim from a client but believed more would surely follow.
“I received e-mails from Momentum and Discovery, who assigned extra brokers to assist with higher claim volumes,” she said.
Insurance claims streaming in
King Price spokesperson Wynand van Vuuren said the claims were streaming in.
“There have been reports of severe damage to buildings, not only by the hail but also water damage,” he said.
“We’re seeing claims for hail damage to cars, where the cars are simply uneconomical to repair.
“When it comes to damage to buildings, we don’t have a clear picture as yet – our assessors will look at these claims on a case-bycase basis.
“A lot of vehicles were damaged and we have received especially claims coming from the Sandton to the Midrand area.”
Van Vuuren said people must ensure they are insured for storm and hail damage because “it is not automatically included”.
Members urged to insure solar panels
Dialdirect insurance spokesperson Martin van Wyk has urged members to insure solar panels.
“This year, rooftop solar capacity increased by an unprecedented 349%.
“Most solar panels can withstand extreme weather conditions and take a bit of a beating [but] a severe hailstorm can result in small cracks or scratches to the protective glass.
“Depending on the storm’s severity, and the impact of the hailstones, the solar cells themselves can also be damaged,” he said.