Cape Town residents amazed by snow

By Time of article published Aug 20, 2003

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By Judy Damon and Babalo Ndenze

It snowed in Cape Town on Tuesday. And not only did it snow on Table Mountain and several other Boland mountain ranges it also flaked down in Fresnaye, Rondebosch and Constantia.

The three to four-minute light snowfalls so amazed some residents they called the Cape Town weather office to make sure that they had not been "hallucinating", authorities said.

A Fresnaye resident, who asked not to be named, said: "I thought I was imagining it. It was a very light flurry of snow and melted before it could settle on the ground. I never thought I would see snow in Cape Town."

Michael Harris, working at the Constantia Nek Restaurant, had no doubts about seeing the snow falling there. He also witnessed it at nearby Cecilia Forest. "There was snow, but not a lot. Some melted before it hit the ground and then came a major hailstorm," he said.

Rondebosch resident Dewald Coetzee said he found the rooftop and garden of his Rouwkoop Road home "white" when he emerged after the hailstorm.

"It was definitely hail on my garden with the snow probably melting on its way down. Snow in Cape Town - I never thought I would see it or hear about it," he said referring to the snow on the mountains.

Steve Medcalf of the Cape Town weather office said on Tuesday, while none of their staff had witnessed snow in the city on Tuesday morning, it was "not impossible" that snow had fallen.

"The surface temperature around mid-morning was 5°C and freezing level was at 880m. Most rain starts off high up in the atmosphere as snow and ice crystals, which melts on the way down to fall as rain. If the temperatures are low enough, it doesn't melt entirely. With the temperatures being so low, it is not impossible that snow fell in Rondebosch.

"It could also have been sleet, which is partially melted snow, or it could have been soft hail," Medcalf said.

More snowfalls are expected on mountain ranges on Wednesday with freezing cold, wet and windy weather conditions expected to prevail until the end of the week. A minimum temperature of 5°C and a maximum of 12°C are forecast with heavy rains on Monday.

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