By: IOL Motoring Staff
Many high-lying parts of the country were instantly transformed into a winter wonderland earlier this week as blankets of snow fell from the sky, but it wasn't all snowman fun and games as the frosty weather also caused accidents, road closures and many headaches for farmers rushing to protect their livestock.
Many roads in the higher-lying areas of KwaZulu-Natal as well as the Eastern Cape were closed on Monday following heavy snowfalls that began on Sunday and intensified the following day.
Roads closed in KZN included the R56 between Kokstad and Matatiele, R74 between Bergville and Harrismith, R617 between Underberg and Boston, Kingscote cutting between Underberg and Swartberg and the road to Afriski Mountain Resort. Furthermore, guest were reportedly stuck at the Giant's Castle Resort and Sani Mountain Lodge.
However, the N3 national toll route has not been affected, with Arrive Alive confirming on Tuesday morning that there was no snow along the route, although the route was very wet and visibility was poor in places, particularly around Van Reenen's Pass:
Road closures in the Eastern Cape affected Loodsberg pass on the N9 between Graaff-Reinet and Middelburg, the Wapadsberg pass on the R61 between Cradock and Graaff-Reinet and the Penhoek pass on the N6 between Queenstown and Jamestown. On Tueday it was reported that the Swartberg mountain pass between Oudtshoorn and Prins Albert had also been closed.
Is there more to come?
Snow Report SA says it does not expect any further snowfalls in KZN for the remainder of this week. However, it does foresee further snowfall over Lesotho and the Eastern Cape regions bordering the Drakensberg, which could continue well into Tuesday afternoon, while some snow over the Western Cape mountains, reaching as far as Citrusdal, is also possible. Some parts of the Northern Cape, including Sutherland, could see snow.
The roads will be very wet though
While the mountainous areas enjoyed snowfalls, other parts of the country have experienced heavy rainfall, with flooding in some parts of Durban. The Road Traffic Management Corporation has warned that the thunderstorms and rainy conditions were expected to spread further inland from Tuesday, with Gauteng likely to experience more heavy downpours and hail in the coming days.
Do you have a survival strategy?
If you're driving through an area where snow is possible, the N3TC urges motorists to travel with a survival pack of sorts, with extra water, food, blankets and medicine - practically everything that you might need if trapped by a road closure. It also warns that adverse weather conditions can affect communications systems, meaning that, on top of everything, you might not even have cell phone reception.
Even if you manage to avoid the snow, wet roads are also extremely dangerous, even more so in the case of the first rains after the long winter dry spells as months worth of spilt oil rises to the surface. It's therefore a good idea to leave for your destination a bit earlier than usual to make up for the fact that you should be driving slower. Also remember to keep your lights on and increase following distances as wet roads increase your braking distances.
Yes these are very obvious tips, but they can't be emphasised enough!
Gallery pictures courtesy of: Roelof Colyn, Christoff Opperman, Hapi Mohapeloa, Ashley Aylott, Michelle West Wridgway, Dill McInnes, Marlene Durandt, Gareth Freer Bargate, Corwin CoCo Williamson, Andrew Francois Dobie.
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