12/18/06 REPORTS: SE Africa, KwaZulu Province

The Drakensberg escarpment here is always producing big devastating storms particularly around December, so far this year numerous incidents of cricket ball hail and damaging tornadoes have been reported. It's different to the US plains in that the whole north eastern coast of S Africa rises from the sea to about 2000 meters in the space of 180 kilometres. What happens is that a moist LLJ comes straight off the warm Indian ocean up the slopes. And fronts come sweeping up from the south creating big shear and instability.

On this particular chase there was a good temp gradient of 34'C in the north and 18'C in south which gave a good indication of the boundary. No drylines on the escarpment usually. Prediction is quite difficult as the local storm forming elements are not well understood at this point. I picked up this storm just as it was starting off quite high up the slopes at about 3:30pm. It immediately produced this great lowered structure on the northern side which was dominated by inflowing winds. The storm then took off and I lost it in the hills. It wasnt a big storm by local standards, but it produced some good structure.