In an unexpected turn of events, South Africa is experiencing a significant drop in temperatures, with snowfall gracing parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. The South African Weather Service (SAWS) confirmed the occurrence, marking Monday as the coldest day of the year so far. The icy conditions have led to a flurry of activity, both in terms of weather warnings and the excitement of residents and tourists alike.
The snowfall, a result of a cold front sweeping across the country, has been a sight to behold. Residents of KwaZulu-Natal Midlands and Drakensberg, as well as parts of Gauteng, including Soweto, Alberton, and Roodepoort, woke up to a winter wonderland. The snowfall was so significant that it led to the closure of the R617 Kings Cole road towards Kokstad, with motorists advised to use the N2 instead.
While the snowfall has brought joy to many, it has also prompted warnings from SAWS and the KZN Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs. They have urged residents to exercise caution when using gas and paraffin stoves, as well as izimbawula, to keep warm. The weather conditions have also led to warnings for small stock farmers and outdoor activities, highlighting the risk of icy roads leading to traffic disruptions and possible losses of vulnerable livestock and crops.
However, it’s not all warnings and caution. The snowfall has brought an unexpected boon to the tourism and hospitality industry. Colette Macaskill, events manager at Netherwood Farm in Nottingham Road in the Midlands, reported an overflow of customers, with phone lines ringing non-stop with inquiries about the snow. Brett Tungay, Federated Hospitality Association of Southern Africa (FEDHASA) East Coast Chairperson, echoed these sentiments, stating that the snowfall has led to an increase in occupancy figures and visitors to restaurants and coffee shops.
— Sbu Zondi (@iamsbuzondi) July 25, 2016
Road to Underberg closed due to snow – Michelle West Wridgway pic.twitter.com/uMcuL7iTEN
— Snow Report SA (@SnowReportSA) July 25, 2016
As the country braces for more cold weather, with temperatures expected to rise only from Wednesday, the public is encouraged to stay informed, heed the warnings, and follow the advice provided by local authorities. Despite the challenges, the snowfall has brought a sense of excitement and wonder, transforming parts of South Africa into a winter wonderland.