Snow, hail, rain and sub zero temperatures, it's been bitterly cold across most of South Africa. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency

Cape Town - Snow, hail, rain and sub-zero temperatures, it's been bitterly cold across most of South Africa. According to meteorologists, this is one of the coldest winters the southern hemisphere has ever experienced.

While the rain has been welcomed by drought-stricken areas, locals and tourists have complained about the cold.

We answer some burning questions about this freezing weather.

What is the coldest minimum temperature today? What was the coldest maximum temperature yesterday?

Buffelsfontein residents in the Eastern Cape experienced the coldest morning in South Africa on Wednesday with the lowest minimum temperature of -12.3°C, according to the South African Weather Service (SAWS). The lowest maximum temperature on Tuesday was 6.6°C in Sutherland, Northern Cape.

How long is this cold front going to last?

"The cold fronts are following each other in quick succession, but it is the aftermath – the cold air that stays behind – that warms up slowly until temperatures return to what they were before the passage of a cold front," Elsa de Jager, manager of the National Climate Centre at SAWS told IOL.

Picture: Karen Sandison/ANA

What are cold fronts exactly and what is it with this freezing weather?

"A cold front is a boundary between two air masses with different characteristics. It occurs where a large mass of cold air meets a mass of warmer air, and the cold air advances on the warmer air. The cold air undercuts the warm air pushing it upwards. Cumulonimbus clouds form a well-defined line along the boundary between the air masses. As the cold front passes, the clouds roll by and the air temperature may become noticeably cooler, with temperatures dropping by 5 °C or more within the first hour. Rain, gusty winds, and, sometimes, thunderstorms and even snow occur with the passage of the cold front."

What are the do's and don'ts of getting through the unbearable cold?

DO stay indoors where possible and be alert for any warnings.

DO cover your mouth to protect lungs from the cold air.

DO move valuables to a safe place above the expected flood level (if you are in a building.)

DON'T drink alcohol, consume caffeinated beverages or smoke if you are in the extreme cold. These spur on hypothermia and frostbite.

DON'T turn on your brights when driving in the fog. Put on the headlights and reduce speed.

DON'T cross rivers and streams if the water is above your ankles.