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Tornadoes of Africa
Almost all tornado reports uncovered for Africa referred to tornado events in South Africa. However, a few other tornado reports from the African continent are available, indicating South Africa is not the only nation to be hit by tornadic storms, though there appear to be no systematic reporting of such events, even when they turn deadly.
In early February 2003, a tornado swept through a remote western Congo town killing 17 people. Local authorities report at least 4,000 people injured and at least 1,700 people lost their homes.
A deadly tornado struck Chad on 7 May 2007. Police reports from the small town of Bebedjia in southeastern Chad indicate the town was "virtually wiped out" (95 percent of the town destroyed) leaving 14 dead and more than 100 injured. It was the worst of three tornadoes to strike Chad during this month. Another struck the town about six hours later, doing mostly property damage. The first tornado in May hit near Ndjamena on 2 May 2007, leaving nine dead, about 100 injured and destroying about 50 houses.
Tornadoes in South Africa
South African tornadoes typically arise with very hot air masses and severe thunderstorms. As with many of the other countries mentioned in this study, the number of tornadoes in South Africa may be well underreported. In an analysis of an F3 tornado event on 21 October 1999, 50 km south of Johannesburg, investigators E. de Coning, B. F. Adam, A. M. Goliger and T. van Wyk noted: "It is alarming that an event of such magnitude would have gone unnoted or ignored, especially in view of its closeness to South Africa's largest metropolitan area."
According to the South African Weather Service, most tornadoes there have been observed in Gauteng, the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal (along a line from Pietermaritzburg to Ladysmith) and the northern region of the former Transkei. The majority of events occur in mid-summer, from November to January; however, tornadoes have also occurred in spring and early summer (September and October) and in the late summer and autumn (February to May). Like the US Tornado Belt, most tornado events occurred in the late afternoon or early evening, typically between 1600 and 1900 local time. About 65% of South African tornadoes fall into the Fujita Scale classes of F0 or F1 (light damage) and more than 25% are classified as F2 (considerable damage) or less. A few have reached F3 or above. The Mount Ayliff tornado that touched down on 18 January, 1999 in the Eastern Cape region rated an F4 classification.
At least seven killer tornadoes have struck in South Africa in the past sixty years. The worst was the Mount Ayliff tornado that took 25 fatalities and caused 500 injuries over its 120 km (75 mile) path. The second most destructive to human life struck on 30 November 1952 in Albertynesville, South Africa. This twister caused 20 fatalities and 400 injuries.
Another deadly tornado just missed injuring South African President Nelson Mandela. On 11 January 1999, Mandela was visiting his local pharmacy when a twister struck the town of Umtata. The pharmacy sustained damage to its glass and roof, but Mandela was not injured. As the storm approached, his bodyguards told him to lie on the floor and they covered his body with theirs. Eleven others in town were not as lucky, most dying when a bus shelter wall collapsed under the force of the storm winds. The tornado also injured 150 people, seriously damaged the Umtata General Hospital and its intensive care unit, swept roofs off houses, and uprooted trees.
Discussions of tornadoes for the five continents are given elsewhere on this site:
Tornadoes of Europe
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