Frosty in Harrismith


snow_july 26

MIKE TIPPETT

Snow on Van Reenens Pass.

Frosty the Snowman made several appearances at Harrismith's town centre on Tuesday, as families gathered to create a South African version of the “jolly happy soul”.

Resembling the scene of an American Christmas movie, many children began rolling up huge snow balls for the bodies of the snowmen.

But instead of the “corn cob pipe, a button nose, and two eyes made of coal”, these frosties wore South African Springbok scarves and beanies.

“There's no work today, we don't have power, so we are out here to play with the kids,” resident Suzette Brits said.

Their big-bellied snowman wore two horns on its head, symbolising the Blue Bulls rugby team they supported.

“It took us 20 minutes to make this snow man,” she said.

Youngsters were spotted throwing snowballs at each other. Another set of town dwellers were trying to make an igloo.

“Snowmen are just so overrated,” one of them said.

The tiny Free State town was under a blanket of snow after heavy falls overnight. The unusual weather caused the closure of a long stretch of the N3 highway, between Van Reenens Pass and Villiers.This left many travellers moving between KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng on Monday having to seek accommodation in Harrismith, a halfway spot, overnight.

Petrol stations and stores were running on generators as the town was also hit by an electricity cut.

“Nobody must even think of venturing out on the roads,” said Dries van Niekerk, owner of Dries Auto. “Today is a day to stay indoors and drink Gluhwein. “

He said this was the worst snow storm since 1992.Van Niekerk at the time was in the town council's emergency services.

“We had cowboys, out of towners, who decided to drive down the road into the valley during that snow storm. And the next thing, we received a few hours later, was an emergency call to say they were dying. “

He said emergency services with the help of the army were then tasked with the rescue.

“You can lose yourself in weather like this. We recorded 3cm of snow last night.”

Snow draped surrounding mountains in white, while cattle were seen grazing in a nearby field by a frozen lake. Truckers and other motorists were lined up just before the N3 offramp.

“We are stuck here,” one motorist shouted.

“I have to get to the highway.”

There was no way of her being able to, as police closely monitored the off ramp, buzzing sirens as one or two drivers tried to sneak by.

A policeman tasked to spend his 12-hour shift at the turn off to Phuthaditjhaba (QwaQwa), said he came prepared “with the right stuff for the weather”. “I've got my supplies, my lunch, my sweet stuff for the cold.”

He said police had no idea when roads would be opened. “The weather services said this would go on for three days.”

He said there were motorists who tried to pass by the police, but they were sternly told to turn around. “They don't put up a fight,” he said.

According to residents, the snow fall was an estimated 6cm which had fallen swiftly over the area with breaks of drizzle. – Sapa


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