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South Africa experiences some of the highest levels of electric storms in the world ‒ and these two men love it

Juandrè Vorster, known online as the Weather Hooligan, and Kobus van Zyl have made it their mission to provide fun and accurate weather reports to South Africans. Supplied image.

Juandrè Vorster, known online as the Weather Hooligan, and Kobus van Zyl have made it their mission to provide fun and accurate weather reports to South Africans. Supplied image.

Published Jun 25, 2022

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Johannesburg - By day, he works as an oil quality control inspector, but that can change at the drop of a hat or, in Juandrè Vorster’s case, when the first lightning cracks across the Gauteng skies.

The 35-year-old Boksburg resident, known online as the Weather Hooligan, has been providing weather reports for the last four years, saying things that many think about the weather but would never say publicly. Vorster’s choice of expletives makes for the most interesting weather reports around, and his one million views a month attest to that.

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“I have always had an interest in the weather. A friend of mine does his own weather charts, and I use the data from Afri-Weather to compile my reports. While they are fun, they are also very accurate. I find the normal weather reports on TV a bit boring, so I decided to spice up my own,” he said.

But it’s not weather reports that gets his adrenalin pumping. Vorster is a storm chaser. South Africa experiences some of the highest level of electric storms in the world, and Vorster drives into the eye of the storm to get his fans the best images and videos possible.

Juandrè Vorster and Kobus van Zyl have made it their mission to provide fun and accurate weather reports to South Africans. But their ultimate high is chasing storms. Supplied image.

“This is dangerous work, but I love it. It’s in my blood. I have to do it. Earlier this year, lightning struck 12 metres from where I was standing. Once in Standerton, wind speeds of between 80-90km/h almost took the car off the road. I hope my policies are up to date,” he smiled.

But it’s not just for the love of weather that Vorster does what he does.

“I have never gone public with this, but I am actually a recovering drug addict. I was addicted to crystal meth, and I have been clean for seven years. This keeps me sober. It shows that there is hope for other addicts,” he said.

The father of two said that while he needed to set an example for his children, he also had to find something for his own sobriety.

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“Not even your children can keep you sober. You have to do it for your own sobriety. If you’re doing it for anyone else, you won’t succeed,” Vorster added.

Some of the images that Vorster captured during a Highveld storm. Supplied image.

Vorster chases storms across Gauteng and the Free State and has his very own Robin, in the form of Kobus van Zyl, who covers the Limpopo Province. Between the two storm chasers, they cover most of Mzansi and have cameras set up across the country to capture the magnificence of electrical storms and bring those images to fans.

“I have spent more than R100K on equipment, and some of the fans also contributed to getting the equipment. When I started, I did it from home until someone suggested I get a proper studio up and running. Now I even have different outfits for each weather report,” he said.

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And what of the family and friends when Vorster leaves a braai or family gathering to chase storms?

“My fiancée says I am married to the weather. She’ll never find me in a pub, and she’s OK with that. Although this is dangerous work, it’s important to know when you have enough. Some guys go for that last pic that may break the internet, but I never cross that line. My family supports me, and that’s very important to me,” he said.

Juandrè Vorster and Kobus van Zyl have made it their mission to provide fun and accurate weather reports to South Africans. But their ultimate high is chasing storms. Supplied image.

Vorster said he and his car had become familiar sights around the province, and even when he travelled on private farms and roads, people just let him be, saying, “there goes the weatherman”.

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When asked about the name Weather Hooligan, Vorster said it described him perfectly because he is always running to the storm instead of away from it.

“Even though I am a Christian, for me, it’s either I make it, or I don’t make it, but I really don’t want to die,” he added.

And while the duo are on downtime now, the pair promised many exciting things when the storm season hits SA in November.

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