This morning I received an e-mail claiming that gale force winds and tornadoes would hit Johannesburg this weekend and that these would be accompanied by massive winds. Here is the e-mail in its entirety:
BREAKING NEWS Gail force winds of up to 300km are expected for the Johannesburg region during the course of the weekend. This bad weather that is approaching will reach Johannesburg region later this afternoon approaching from the west rand and heading towards the east rand with possibilities of stronger tornado’s experienced last weekend. Please make sure that you get home early as the roads are going to be chaotic due to the weather. Please make sure you and your loved ones are in doors when the wind starts to pick up, please make sure that pets are indoors as well.
Please see the photo attached from HAARP weather institute.
This is obviously a hoax. The red flags are so bright and hoisted so high that I’m getting a headache from the sudden change in colour of my horizon (I like blue skies).
When ever you receive an e-mail like this, keep your eyes peeled for the following dead give-aways:
1. Grammar worse than a 6 year old. Serious weather warnings are not issued by people who don’t know how to string a sentence together properly. It is extremely important that a weather warning not cause confusion and it has to be properly written. Phrases like “This bad weather that is approaching will reach Johannesburg region” should immediately trigger your bullshit detector.
2. Critical factual errors are another major red flag. If you were to represent wind speed in metric units, you would say km/h (kilometres per hour), not just km. And a hurricane with a wind speed over 250km/h would be a category 5 hurricane! When last did we have one of those in Joburg? Never!
An enormous weather system, such as the one depicted in the image included in the e-mail, is actually a hurricane, not a tornado, and can not form over the West Rand of Gauteng. They need water, enormous open stretches of it combined with strong winds and the absence of geography. That is not what the West Rand is. It has the Magalies mountains, for a start.
Finally, HAARP, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program does not have a weather satellite and is not a weather institute.
3. Precautions that will not help you. If you are in the path of a hurricane like the one depicted, you will not be safe inside your house with the doors and windows closed. You will need to be in a hurricane shelter, preferably underground.
4. Do Not Panic! If an e-mail like this is scary, and encourages you to tell everyone you know, pass it along to friends, or go home early, Don’t. Rather check the WeatherSA website for the truth (or otherwise) of the warning and take suitable precautions.
In summary, this e-mail is obviously a hoax – the picture is taken from the Space Shuttle of a large hurricane over the Atlantic ocean. There is NO indication that this “warning” comes from any official weather agency, it’s just some moron with nothing better to do than try and spread panic. They didn’t even sign their name.
When you receive e-mails like this, don’t send them on, just Press Delete.