Local news

Storm rips through Tongaat, high winds and hail decimate coastal areas

There have been multiple injuries reported.

A tornado caused widespread destruction in Tongaat and the surrounding areas this afternoon.

Reports of hail in the area first streamed in at around 4pm before videos of the tornado, which appeared to form inland, were widely shared across social media soon after.

The South African Weather Service (SAWS) had issued a level 1 weather warning earlier in the afternoon but the freak weather caught most off guard.

There has been no official confirmation of a tornado to date and the SAWS was unreachable at the time of publication.

Buildings across the Tongaat area were levelled this afternoon.
Photo: WhatsApp.

What is clear is that many homes have been decimated and there will be huge infrastructure damage to face when teams comb through the areas tomorrow.

That aside from the multiple injuries reported by emergency teams, particularly in the Magwaveni and Sandfields areas of Tongaat.

No deaths have been reported to date.

So far, there have been reports of heavy damage in Tongaat while homes in Seatides and La Mercy have also been affected.

A screenshot from a video showing the tornado travelling towards Tongaat.
Photo: WhatsApp.

Golf ball-sized hail was seen as far south as Umdloti.

All of the areas affected were also among the hardest hit during the 2022 KZN floods.

It is understood that the tornado has since passed out to sea, but dangerous weather conditions persist.

Salt Rock’s Wade Drury was one North Coast resident who saw the tornado first-hand.

Devastation in Tongaat.
Photo: WhatsApp.

“I was driving northbound on the N2 towards the Tongaat Toll Plaza when I first noticed the hail,” said Drury,

“I was in a car with a sunroof and at that point I was worried about damage to the car.”

The hail soon settled and Drury considered stopping to take a video, but it was quite literally the calm before the storm.

“At first I saw what looked like mini tornadoes, then my boss who was in a separate car driving behind me called because he had hit the hail,” he said.

Wade Drury captured this image as he was about to reach the Tongaat toll.

“Then I saw this huge black cloud and the tornado coming at us from the north-west, travelling south-east.”

“It all happened so suddenly and just after I got through the toll I felt like I was going through it. There were tin roofs flying around and we were just trying to stay on the road.”

“I had my right hand on the steering wheel and on the phone to my boss and the left hand holding the sunroof.”

Drury was driving a Land Rover and still said he felt like the car was almost out of control.

Golf ball sized hail was found in Umdloti.
Photo: WhatsApp.

“I was being pulled left and right like crazy. My boss saw a truck tip onto its side close to him. I was going 120 just trying to get through it.”

And just as suddenly as it began, once through the tornado everything cleared and it was mostly fine to drive.

Just behind, Drury’s boss saw trees being uprooted from the centre median of the road.

It has been a similar experience for many North Coasters this afternoon who saw massive winds uproot years of investment – in their homes, cars and businesses.

The storm has since passed out to sea.
Photo: Michelle Gordon/Facebook.

There will be widespread need for essentials in the coming days and teams are already mobilising.

At the time of publication, no major routes were closed, although traffic remains slow-moving as a result of the continuing weather and debris from the storm.

There have been power outages in Ballito too.

“We urge motorists to avoid travelling due to the debris on the roads including power lines, trees and homes,” said IPSS Medical Rescue spokesperson, Samantha Meyrick.

“Teams are attending to multiple collapsed homes and medical emergencies.”

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