WATCH | Tornado hits KwaZulu-Natal

A tornado left a swathe of destruction in New Hanover and Greytown, north of Pietermaritzburg, on Tuesday.

Residents of the Mshwati district have been hit hard by the tunnel of wind that blew through the area, uprooting trees in its wake.

SA Weather Service (Saws) forecaster Wiseman Dlamini confirmed that there was a severe storm in the New Hanover and Greytown area.

“It was a supercell and a tornado formed. I saw the severity of the storm on the radar and the wind speeds. It was on average about 20-35km per hour. This is very strong,” he said.

Dlamini said the storm was now heading north, but he could not say with certainty whether the tornado would continue to those areas.

The province has been on high alert since Sunday. Four people have been confirmed dead since torrential rains and wind started battering the province.

KZN department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) spokesperson Senzo Mzila confirmed the tornado, saying he saw visuals of the storm hitting the area.

Mzila said they had not received any reports of injuries or casualties, adding that they were still being advised.

He said Cogta MEC Sipho KZN Sipho Hlomuka had warned of extreme weather conditions – particularly severe thunderstorms and gale-force winds.

Several videos and images of the swirling storm surfaced on social media, with some residents reporting that it hit Eskom facilities in the area.

Eskom KZN communications and stakeholder manager Joyce Zingoni confirmed that their infrastructure had been affected by the storm.

“The storm was in the area around Mersey substation, which led to the 33kV Mpolweni feeder to trip. Teams are on site and awaiting the storm to subside before evaluating the damage caused,” she said.

“Customers in the Mpolweni area may have been affected and could have had power interruptions. Eskom will only be able to ascertain the affected customers after evaluation.”

Zingoni urged customers to treat all installations as live, for safety reasons.

Meanwhile, motorists have been warned not to use the R33 between Pietermaritzburg and New Hanover because of the trees and debris on the road.

A “tornado-like” storm ripped through Newcastle in January 2018.

BY YASANTHA NAIDOO – TimesLIVE

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