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Record-breaking rainfall, destructive tornadoes and a spell of cold weather hits South Africa

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A spell of unusually wet weather wrapped portions of South Africa over the last couple of days. Snowfall and record-breaking rains triggered severe flooding and landslides across the affected areas, prompting the authorities to issue adequate weather warnings. A tornado ripped through East Rand, Johannesburg on July 26, injuring at least 24 people.

Severe weather conditions were caused by a field of low pressure slowly moving along the southern coast. 

Rainfall affecting coastal areas of South Africa. Credit: UK Met Office

Flooding was reported in Durban, Chatsworth, and Amanzimtoti while hailstorm accompanied by a destructive tornado hit East Rand (Johannesburg), Gauteng on Tuesday, July 26. The tornado injured at least 23 people. It was the second tornado to hit Gauteng since Monday, July 25.

Flooding in Durban, South Africa – July 2016. Credit: KC Makhubele (@KCMakhubele)

Flooding in Durban, South Africa – July 2016. Credit: KC Makhubele (@KCMakhubele)

One of the strongest affected areas was Durban, which recorded 150 mm (5.9 inches) of rainfall in a period of only 12 hours on July 25, 2016, an amount 5 times higher than the average July rainfall for the region. Since July 24, 315 mm (12.4 inches) was reported in the coastal Paddock, an amount of about a third of the usual annual rainfall.

Heavy snowfall blanketed the southeastern inland, causing traffic disruptions between the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Video credit: iTEN TV

A tornado has swept through parts of the East Rand around 16:00 local time on July 26, ripping the roof of Phumulani Mall in Winnie Mandela section in Tembisa, East Rand. At least 24 people were injured.

The video below shows the moment a tornado struck:

The following video shows a tornado near Magaliesburg, Gauteng around 15:30 local time on July 25:

Over the next couple of days, between 15 and 25 cm (0.5 and 0.8 feet) of additional snowfall is expected, and the South African Weather Service has put in effect appropriate snow warnings.

Intense coastal rainfall and strong wind gusts may cause structural damage and coastal flooding along the affected areas while strong thunderstorms may disrupt air traffic.

Severe weather will likely continue over the next couple of days. Between 75 and 125 mm (2.9 and 4.9 inches) of rainfall is expected in the coastal parts, along with an increased flooding risk while more snow is forecast in mountainous regions and the KwaZulu-Natal midlands. 

Severe rainstorms accompanied by lightning, strong winds and hail are expected in the Free State, Gauteng, and North West province.  

Featured image credit: iTEN TV

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