Big freeze puts hope for an early spring on ice

Another cold front accompanied by heavy snowfalls on Monday dashed hopes of a change in weather, following warm conditions around the country last week.

South African Weather Services forecaster Jan Vermeulen, said a cut-off low over the Northern Cape, caused icy conditions over most parts of South Africa from Monday.

Snowfall was expected in the western high ground of KwaZulu-Natal, the southern escarpment of Mpumalanga and in the north-eastern part of the Free State.

“The snow falls could vary from about four to five centimetres,” he said.

About 10cm of snow and 25mm of rain was expected in Volksrust, Mpumalanga.

“We don’t expect snowfall tomorrow, it should be cleared by then,” he said.

Gauteng residents should also brace themselves for very cold conditions until Wednesday, which is when the cut-off low would move away.

“Until the sun is back on Wednesday, we are going to have cloudy conditions, fog patches and drizzle,” he said.

Hail had also fallen over some parts of Johannesburg on Monday.

The N3 highway, and all alternate routes at Van Reenen’s Pass between the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal was also closed on Monday.

The N3 was closed from Harrismith to the Colenso/Frere interchange, due to heavy snowfalls, the N3 Toll Concession company said.

Spokesperson Andy Visser said: “All alternates including the N11 at Ladysmith, which motorists were using as a diverted route, has also been closed.”

Icy rain began falling in the area, during the early hours of the morning and later turned to snow.

Visser said snow continued to fall at midday, with breaks of icy rain.

Emergency services, police, military and car towing services have helped to move all light motor vehicles that were stuck earlier off the path.

About 30 trucks were still waiting at Van Reenen’s Pass.

“We are still busy getting them off the road. Thankfully, there weren’t any serious incidents. We just had some vehicles sliding off the road and a few jack-knifed trucks, with no injuries.”—Sapa

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