The big Cape Town snow mystery

Did it snow in Cape Town’s city centre on Wednesday? Yes, say office workers. Unlikely, says the South African Weather Service.

As the city shivered under a biting north wind and squalls of driving rain, callers to a local radio station reported seeing snowflakes falling in the city centre.

One man said he had even seen snow in Muizenberg.

Although e-mail photographs of snow on Table Mountain were circulating in the city on Wednesday afternoon, a staffer at the Table Mountain cableway said they were, in fact, images taken several years ago.

The staffer said the cableway did not have staff on top of the mountain, which was covered in heavy cloud, and it was not known whether it was actually snowing there.

A weather-service forecaster in Cape Town, Carlton Fillis, said the freezing level was 7 000 feet (2 100m).

”Table Mountain is 3 000 feet [900m] high, and the possibility of snow there is extremely remote; more so the possibility of snow in Muizenberg,” he said.

As for snow in the city centre, he said, there would have to be a much lower freezing level for that to happen.

He also said that phone calls from members of the public about the snow, whether real or imagined, put unnecessary strain on the Cape Town weather office, and tied up forecasters who should be dealing with more important queries from aviation and the fishing industry. — Sapa

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