25 August 2017

South Africa: Massive Waves Cause Havoc Along SA Coast

Abnormally high waves and rough swells off the South African coast wreaked havoc for several buildings on Thursday afternoon, with some people and animals getting caught up in the flurry.

Average wave heights of 8m were recorded in East London around 17:00, while the highest recorded wave was 13.68m, South African Weather Service forecaster Venetia Thakula told News24 on Friday.

Alerts for high waves were usually issued for anything over 4m.

At the Eastern Beach in East London, two women were enjoying themselves close to the water when the waves flooded over to where they were standing.

"They were running when they saw the water. They sustained minor injuries like scratches," said Warrant Officer Hazel Mqala on Friday.


Similar flooding took place at Kidds Beach.

No other casualties were reported in the area.

Police and traffic officers quickly blocked off surrounding roads so that people and vehicles were kept well away.

A nearby hotel reported excessive water damage. Local authorities were assessing the damage.

The waves battered the East London aquarium, damaging the seal pool, decking and public walkways.

The pump and filtration system that supplied water to the aquarium was also lost.

A seal called Ruff, which was around 16 years old, was washed out into the sea.

"Parts of the boardwalk washed into the seal pool and caused the glass to crash," explained aquarium superintendent Steven Rheeder.

"Ruff is one of our oldest seals and has quite a personality. The size of the swell is huge. Once it all settles, we hope she comes out onto one of our local beaches."

Clean-up operation

The aquarium was closed while they made repairs. Rheeder said lots of people wanted to donate money to assist them.

At Groot Brakrivier, near Mossel Bay, a video taken by a member of the public showed the river mouth pounded open with waves rushing in from the ocean.

People were seen rushing away from the water. A woman was caught up in the water and carried along the mouth for a while.

The person who took the video seemed to think the woman may have lost her camera. Two men rushed to assist her and walk her out.

In the Tsitsikamma section of the Garden Route National Park, the Cattle Baron restaurant at the Storms River mouth was closed temporarily due to rough seas and high swells.

The sea washed away braai stands at the Storms River rest camp. The wood on the top of the retaining wall of the Otter trail hiking camp site was also washed away.

"Our teams are also inspecting sewer systems for any potential damage," said Tsitsikamma section technical manager Andre Petersen.

A clean-up operation was underway.

Garden Route national park spokesperson Nandi Mgwadlamba said the restaurant would remain closed until after the storm.

"Although low tide is expected today at midday, swells up to 9m high are expected to return this evening."

Thakula explained that the waves between Port Alfred and Durban could have been due to high swells pushing against the Agulhas current.

High seas with wave heights of between 6m and 9m were expected between Plettenberg Bay and Durban on Friday morning.

These waves were expected to subside by 13:00, said Thakula.

Source: News24

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