MaCinJay’s Musings

another case of inverse vandalism

Tornado in Johannesburg?

with 2 comments

The weirdest thing happened today. I was forwarded an email from a colleague which contained the following warning:

Please take this serious (sic). A weather warning has just been issued. Within the next hour we will have a temperature drop of 10 degrees. And we will have a severe storm early this afternoon. This covers the whole of Gauteng. Please be careful as a tornado dropped in Randfontein on Saturday and is expected today.

The original email was apparently sent from someone working for a news media organisation. However it struck me as bogus. A tornado “dropped” in Randfontein (a town about 30km west of Johannesburg)? Now, there were some serious thunderstorms on Saturday evening west of Johannesburg  (one man was killed in the township of Lenasia after taking shelter under a tree) but nothing that could be described as a tornado. So I dismissed it.

Later in the day we received an email from the boss’s personal assistant to say that we could leave early to avoid “the storm”. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth I packed up and left along with the rest of my team. But before that we picked up from the news services that the threat had been “exaggerated” by people sending text messages and emails. The traffic along my route home was a little heavier for that time of day but was apparently a lot busier elsewhere as a result of people evacuating their workplaces. I noticed that the skies looked mildly threatening but seemingly not enough to justify the earlier hysteria, and I arrived home without incident. (It is now 7.30 pm and the “tornado” is nowhere to be seen.)

It got me thinking about the power of modern communications. Mostly of course the advancements made are immensely beneficial but in this case they had been used to whip up the proverbial storm in a teacup (if you can excuse the pun), with who knows how many working hours lost as a result.


Written by macinjay

October 8, 2007 at 5:38 pm

2 Responses

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  1. […] Original post by macinjay […]

  2. That was one of the funniest days ever.I’m sure meteorologists everywhere must have been pulling their hair out.Tornadoes are impossible to predict (only a watch goes out when there are high chances of one,and a warning only when one makes landfall).There were even emails saying that it was a typhoon.I mean come`on anyone with the slightest bit of common sense would know typhoons strike in the W.Pac their not even called that here,and secondly durban would feel the brunt of a cyclone hours before any inland area did,and even then the inland area would only get rain and a bit of wind due to weakening on landfall.


    February 28, 2008 at 3:49 pm

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