Interviewed: SA man who mowed lawn during tornado
'It was clear skies just before I started to mow the lawn. It was about 28 degrees outside‚ so this whirlwind comes through. In a few minutes time it formed a tornado. I couldn’t believe it'
It started out as a sunny day‚ perfect to do chores around the house.
A whirlwind swept past. Minutes later‚ animal nutritionist Theunis Wessels‚ 43‚ found himself mowing the lawn against the backdrop of a raging tornado.
That moment‚ captured in a photograph‚ has gone viral across the globe. Wessels and his wife Cecelia‚ who took the shot‚ became overnight celebrities.
It was the first time‚ after having lived in Canada for seven years‚ that the couple had seen a tornado.
Speaking to TimesLIVE from Alberta on Tuesday‚ the couple said they were flabbergasted by all the attention the photograph had received.
The picture was initially sent to Theunis’s in-laws in South Africa. Soon it was being shared countless times on social media after being re-posted by a friend who is an avid storm chaser in Canada.
“It was clear skies just before I started to mow the lawn. It was about 28 degrees outside‚ so this whirlwind comes through. In a few minutes time it formed a tornado. I couldn’t believe it‚” he said.
Cecelia‚ a swimming instructor‚ said: “When the first person called to have an interview with him he said‚ ‘no thank you’. By Sunday‚ when we were still being phoned for interviews‚ he asked: ‘Are we still doing this?’
“We are both speechless. We cannot believe how this has taken off‚” said Cecelia.
“That was the first time that we had seen a tornado. On average‚ there are about 16 tornadoes in the province‚” he said.
He attended a seminar a couple of months ago that was presented by actual storm-chasers who explained what to look out for‚ how to be safe during a storm and what are the danger signs. He just followed what he had learned.
He wasn’t in any immediate danger. The storm was five kilometres away.
She said that many people had suggested the photograph was fake. No‚ she said‚ it was 100% authentic.
“I have had people testing to see whether the photo is real or not‚ looking at whether everything is lining up as it should in my picture. A couple of people have come back to me over and again asking whether the photo is real or not‚” she said.
The photograph set social media ablaze.
TimesLIVE Facebook users also weighed in from South Africa.
Maretha Van Zyl Marziale said: “It will cause a tornado the day my husband decides to mow the lawn.”
Andile KaMthembu quipped: “Lol the tornado should have been a good excuse not to mow the lawn.”
Mowing the lawn is not that bad‚ chirped Aubrey Mmanare Mabala: “For a married man mowing a lawn is a therapy session.”