Durban - There was traffic chaos near Nottingham Road on Sunday when eager snow seekers flocked to the Midlands, causing bumper-to-bumper traffic jams.
The public has now been warned to avoid “snow areas”, and to reconsider whether to cross Van Reenen’s pass into the interior.
A cold front moving in from the west brought snow to parts of KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State. Places affected included Nottingham Road, Impendle, Kamberg, Drakensberg Gardens, Mooi River, Ladysmith, Van Reenen’s Pass, Harrismith and Bethlehem.
A photograph showing heavy traffic in the Nottingham Road area was posted on Snow Report SA’s Facebook page around midday and angry locals vented their frustrations in the comments section.
Robyn Torr wrote: “We live on the first farm off the freeway from Notties and it took us about 30 minutes to get home because of people stopping in very silly places, including our driveway. Please don’t lose your brain when you see snow!! We still have to work and farm in this!!”
Authorities have now warned motorists to stay off the roads where possible, because of the snowy, misty conditions.
A statement from KZN Emergency Medical Services, the Road Traffic Inspectorate and Tolcon urged motorists to avoid the N3 toll route.
“With the increased possibility of snow, there is also a high likelihood that local residents and travellers may be snowed in as roads may have to be closed in the interest of safety,” the statement read.
The station commander of the RTI in Ladysmith, Dave Steele, urged motorists to avoid travelling in hazardous conditions.
“Heavy traffic delays and road closures may occur ... Snow and black ice cause roads to become treacherous. In the event of this happening, roads could be closed.”
The N3 Toll Concession also appealed to road users to stay at home.
“It is imperative not to go snow watching. Please heed our warnings. You may be compounding the problem and diverting emergency resources away from critical activities at this time. Ignoring cautionary advice may put yourself and others at risk,” said Con Roux, the N3TC’s commercial manager.
Roux said snowstorms often caused power failures and communication systems might be under pressure. “You may not be able to use mobile and telecommunication networks,” he warned.
Those with no choice but to travel were advised to pack extra blankets, food and liquids in case of a lengthy closure.
More rain and heavy snow in high-lying areas have been forecast for Monday.