Gauteng / 8 August 2012, 10:37am / YOLANDE DU PREEZ
Pretoria - For the first time in decades, light snowfall in parts of Pretoria caused great excitement among city residents while elsewhere in the country, heavy snow caused chaos on the roads resulting in several road closures.
SA Weather Service forecaster Jan Vermeulen said on Tuesday that snowfall in Pretoria was “unlikely but not impossible”.
His words rang true hours later when snowflakes – stretching from the inner city as far as the outskirts of Centurion – fell from the sky.
Several readers called in with reports of snow in Church Square, in Garsfontein, Wapadrand, Centurion, Atteridgeville and Midrand.
Caller Dee Cokayne said she worked at the Highway Business Park in Centurion and “rather large” snowflakes were falling.
“At first nothing was settling on the ground, but as time passed, it started to settle and show.”
Inner-city residents could enjoy the snowfall for about 15 minutes and seemed not to mind the cold as they tried to capture the rare moment on their cellphones.
Social networks were flooded with snow photos and comments.
“It’s snowing, snow in Pretoria and it’s snowing in Faerie Glen, my car is not blue anymore it’s white.”
While some readers said they remembered it snowing in Pretoria in 1981, a weather service report indicates that the last snowfall in the CBD was in 1959 - and in Irene in 1963.
With the recent cold front sweeping across the country, parts of Joburg had light to moderate snowfall throughout on Tuesday and Monday. KwaZulu-Natal and the north-eastern part of the Free State had heavy snowfall.
Vermeulen said icy conditions were expected over most parts of the country. More snow was expected in KwaZulu-Natal, the southern escarpment of Mpumalanga and in the north-eastern part of the Free State.
Minimum temperatures in the city during the snowfall was 1°C while Joburg hit -1°C and Vereeniging a low of -3°C.
A 30 percent chance of showers was expected over the next few days, but temperatures were expected to increase from Thursday, Vermeulen said.
“Thursday might still be cool, but Friday and Saturday is expected to be much warmer.
“It might even be hot on Saturday,” Vermeulen said
The maximum temperature for Wednesday is forecast at 14°C with a minimum of 2°C.
SA National Parks (SANParks) said the Golden Gate Highlands National Park was covered in a blanket of snow on Tuesday.
The park had its heaviest snowfall in six years.
The hotel manager at the park, Gerrit Potgieter, said “it was the heaviest snowfall” he had seen since 2006.
“The snow is continuing to fall and is really thick,” he said at mid-day. Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) spokesman Ashraf Ismail said no roads in Gauteng were closed, but motorists were advised to take extreme care when travelling.
“Motorists should keep in mind that weather conditions can change instantly.
“We advise them to follow weather, news and traffic reports and have alternative routes planned should roads be closed.”
Ismail said the N3 Van Reenen’s Pass between Harrismith and the Tugela Toll Plaza had been re-opened earlier in the day but had since been closed again.
Several roads in the Western Cape had also been closed and motorists were cautioned to take care on the roads.
SA Weather Service spokeswoman Kenosi Machepa said snow in Joburg was not uncommon.
“We had a similar event in 2007 when an intense cold front moved over the country.
“For it to reach as far north as Pretoria is uncommon,” she said.
ER24 spokeswoman Vanessa Jackson said they had not attended to any serious accidents in the city so far, but said several accidents were reported in the Vaal area on Monday.
Paramedics witnessed a car overturning while they were attending to a patient who had crashed moments earlier.
Netcare911 spokesman Jeff Wicks said no serious accidents had been reported except for a few “bumper bashings”.
N3 Toll Concession Limited spokeswoman Andy Visser said a few people had been stuck on the pass, but were helped to safety.
Arrive Alive spokesman Tshepo Machaea said several roads in the Eastern Cape had been closed because of significant snowfall.
Heavy snowfalls also caused the closure of several border posts between SA and Lesotho in the Free State and the Eastern Cape, the National Border Operational Committee said.
The situation at the Monantsha Pass post was classified as dangerous. Travellers were advised not to try to use that crossing. - Pretoria News