/ 8 June 2011

Winter storm causes chaos on Jo’burg roads

Unseasonal stormy weather caused chaos on Gauteng roads on Wednesday morning, provincial metro police said.

“It’s horrific! My roads are flooded, there’s water everywhere!” Johannesburg metro police spokesperson Edna Mamonyane said.

Metro police closed New Canada Road in Soweto because of flooding. In the past cars have washed away on this road, she said.

Klipspruit Valley Road, a bridge between Orlando East and West, would also be closed due to flooding.

A burning truck on the M1 north near the Jan Smuts off-ramp caused massive traffic delays in the morning, and all four lanes on the highway were closed.

Mamonyane said the fire was extinguished, but by mid-morning the truck was still there.

“We are hoping it will be removed in an hour or two.”

A car fell from the M1 highway on to Empire Road, but metro police were still en route to the scene and Mamonyane had no details.

Another Johannesburg metro police spokesperson, Wayne Minnaar, said End Street, in the inner city, was under water and was blocked off in the morning when a car got stuck.

Johannesburg residents who woke up to grey skies tweeted about the unusual winter storm on social networking site Twitter.

“After 6yrs in Joburg, today’s weather is the most bizarre,” Twitter user @Phinda_n said.

Another user, @VampyreJourno, tweeted that Johannesburg does “everything intensely — including the weather. Felt right at home when I awoke in early hours to sounds of a torrential downpour.”

“Miserable rainy weather today in Joburg and the weather is not really on in winter,” @joemisika said.

However, the surge of unseasonal stormy weather that had hit the country would pass by Friday, the South African Weather Service said.

Forecaster Arno Dyason said the storms were caused by a quite significant cut-off low pressure system over the central interior of the country.

“It does occur on very rare occasions, but it is unseasonal. It mostly happens during spring and autumn, although we had one during December last year and we are having one now, so it does happen sometimes.”

Dyason said the South African Weather Service expected a large area of rainfall over the country on Wednesday, including in Gauteng, the Free State, Lesotho, parts of the Eastern Cape and on the South Coast.

“The rainfall over Gauteng should clear up by about midday,” he said.

Snow was expected over the Lesotho and Drakensberg mountains on Wednesday.

Dyason said to expect very cold conditions around large areas of the central interior and thunderstorms, mainly on Wednesday morning, over the eastern parts of the North West, Gauteng, Free State, and extensively in the western parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

On Thursday the bulk of the rainfall would remain in isolated southern and eastern parts of the country, with a possible heavy rainfall watch to be issued over parts of the Eastern Cape, especially along coastal areas.

Snow was expected around Lesotho, the Drakensberg and other high lying areas.

Dyason said the minimum temperatures would drop from Thursday and Friday in most parts of the country.

On Friday rain was forecast for the south-east, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape with possible heavy rainfall over the Wild Coast.

He said weather in the central interior should improve over the weekend with a “nice recovery” in parts of the country. — Sapa