Up to two feet of snow covered parts of eastern South Africa Tuesday, bringing traffic to a standstill along major routes and disrupting air and rail transportation. The snow also closed shops and schools.
Parts of South Africa usually receive a dusting about once or twice a year but the storm that hit large parts of the eastern half of the country on Monday and Tuesday dumped up to 60 cms (2 feet) in some areas.
“Snow is not unheard of but it is usually not this extreme,” said national weather service forecaster Karl Loots.
YouTube video of snow in the lee of the Drakensberg, South Africa’s highest mountain range
The Reuters report said the snow closed a section of a heavily traveled route between Johannesburg and the east coast city of Durbin, but that Johannesburg itself had avoided the snow. Nonetheless, the South African Weather Service had issued a red alert for cold in Johannesburg Tuesday and Tuesday night according to South Africa’s Independent Online (IOL).
In the small town of Harrismith - about midway between Johannesburg and Durban - the IOL offered this colorful account:
Resembling the scene of an American Christmas movie, many children began rolling up huge snow balls for the bodies of the snowmen.
But instead of the “corn cob pipe, a button nose, and two eyes made of coal”, these frosties wore South African Springbok scarves and beanies.
“There’s no work today, we don’t have power, so we are out here to play with the kids,” resident Suzette Brits said.
The snow in Harrismith was the most there since 1992, the IOL reported.
But the IOL reported a serious side to the snow as well, bringing suffering to shack dwellers in the nearby township of Intabawe, who lack electricity.
It’s quite the year for snow in the Southern Hemisphere. The snow in South Africa comes one week after a crippling snowstorm impacted south Chile.