Winter cold brings floods and snow to South Africa

Winter proper has arrived in South Africa, bringing floods to KwaZulu-Natal and snow to Free State and the Eastern Cape.

    Winter cold brings floods and snow to South Africa
    Satellite view of cloud bringing nearly ten times the monthly average rainfall, in two days, to Margate, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa [Al Jazeera]

    Wintry weather with a vengeance has swept across most parts of South Africa this week. All except the central parts of the Northern Cape have been affected, as has the highland Kingdom of Lesotho.

    Until now, the Western Cape had seen most of the rain this winter.

    A spokesperson for Cape Town's water and sanitation department, Farouk Robertson, said reservoirs were at 48 per cent.

    "We still need a lot of good rain because we'd like to see our dams literally overflow at the end of the winter period," Robertson said. "We are still at level 2 water restrictions and that still requires our residents to adhere to those restrictions."

    On Monday, torrential rain in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) washed cars off the road. Two people have been reported missing as a result. Margate, on the coast south of Durban, recorded 203mm of rain in the last 24 hours. That is over 9 times the July average. The road between King Shaka airport and Margate along the KZN coast was heavily flooded.

    The KZN Department of Cooperative Governance has put disaster management teams on standby, because of continuous rain and snow. Spokesperson Lennox Mabaso said “We are also urging everyone to ensure that they have food and blankets in their cars so that if they are caught in a lengthy road closure, you are also able to have food.”

    Snow has fallen heavily in the Drakensberg Mountains, as well as in Lesotho. According to Lew Campbell at the Tiffindell Ski Resort in the Eastern Cape, the "big snow storm across the Drakensburg has piled 100cm snow on the slopes. Roads in the area are currently closed and the ski lifts are snowed in!"

    While the rain and snow dominate in the three biggest coastal provinces, extreme weather of a different kind hit Magaliesburg. Mario Ferreira posted a video to YouTube, showing what he calls a "tornado going past Koesterfontein Magaliesburg on Monday afternoon, 25 July, at around 15:30".

    The extreme weather is expected to continue until Thursday. Severe thunderstorms with strong winds, heavy rains and possible large hail can be expected in the Free State, Gauteng and North West province.  

    The South African Weather Service says disruptive snowfalls are expected over the high grounds of KwaZulu-Natal, the northern high ground of Eastern Cape and the east and south of the Free State.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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