Cyclone swells pound KZN coastline


By Bronwyn Gerretsen, Karishma Ganpath, Chris Jenkins and Sapa

A massive operation is expected to begin today to clean up the promenade at much of Durban's Golden Mile, which lies under sand washed far ashore by giant waves powered by Cyclone Gamede at the weekend.

The cyclone, which devastated parts of Mozambique last week, is expected to have no further effect on the weather.

The cyclone created swells reaching 3,5m along the coastline. A low-pressure system and the circular motion of the tropical cyclone combined to push out the large waves.

Anne Bennett, of Durban, was sitting under an umbrella reading a book at the beach on Saturday when she was hit by a wave.

North Beach Wimpy staff said the water had reached the steps in front of the restaurant.

It was reported that the water had reached above ankle height on the promenade.

"The waves moved between 30m and 50m along the beach and against a steep gradient. They went over the pier and the concrete banks. It was the first time that I had witnessed waves moving so high," said ER24 spokesperson Neil Noble.

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Cape, four people were injured after being struck by lightning, one man died and hundreds more are homeless after a heavy hail storm near eNgcobo at the weekend. The man was killed when his house collapsed during the storm.

At St Lucia, natural forces combined to produce a spectacle at the weekend, revitalising a long-dormant estuarine system.

Huge waves from rough seas, a spring tide and strong winds caused the sand bank at the estuary mouth to breach after being closed for five years, sending water rushing into the lake.

Hundreds of locals and visitors descended on St Lucia's main beach to watch as the pounding surf broke through the sand bank in five places and water surged in.

Local fishermen wasted no time casting into the mouth.

St Lucia ecologist and tour operator Kian Barker said 3,5m surf began pounding the coastline on Friday afternoon.

"By early evening, large quantities of sea water had entered the narrows and created a strong current flowing inland to the main St Lucia Lake."

By early Saturday morning, a substantial mouth had been cut through the sand bank separating the Indian Ocean and the lake.

Barker said there would be a significant effect on the lake as the intrusion of seawater would kill off any fish intolerant of salt water.

The big waves were expected to be around for the next six days.

Andrew Zaloumis, CEO of the Wetland Park Authority, said the natural breaching of the mouth was positive ecologically and for tourism.

Meanwhile, a cold front moving from Cape Town through the Eastern Cape hit KwaZulu-Natal last night, bringing with it rain and relief from the recent hot and humid weather. These conditions would extend into the week.

The SA Weather Service forecast temperatures in the mid- to high-20s throughout the province for much of the week, with 27°C expected in Durban today and 25°C in Pietermaritzburg. Rain has also been predicted for most of the province until as late as Thursday evening. The extra moisture could result in added humidity, but this it not expected to affect temperatures much.


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