CAPE TOWN, The cold front which caused bitterly cold weather conditions in the South African provinces of Western Cape, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape this past weekend has now moved to the interior and into Gauteng Province.
Snow also fell in several parts of these provinces but temperatures will start rising during the course of the week.
Residents in informal settlements are reeling from the snap cold. Lighting fires can often have calamitous consequences. A fire in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg, claimed one life over the weekend.
Robert Mulaudzi, a spokesperson from the Emergency Services Department, said Monday: “In some situations, they still use an imbawula (makeshift coal stove) and they keep it in the house and inhale the toxins (carbon monoxide) from the brazier.
In downtown Johannesburg, the homeless huddle together for warmth. It’s a daily war against the harsh cold during the Southern Hemisphere winter.
In Western Cape Province, temperatures dropped to below freezing point in several towns over the past few days, but the snow and the rain were welcomed as the people hoped that dam levels would rise in the drought-stricken province once the snow melted.
Kirstenbosch in Cape Town recorded the highest rainfall with 39.2 millimetres followed by Paarl with 26.six mm. In the meantime, the Western Cape provincial department of environmental affairs says the average water level for dams across the province had risen slightly and was currently at 25.1 per cent.
Department spokesperson James Brent Steyn said: “We have seen some good rains over the past weekend and we are still expeting more to come. We’re just hoping that we get enough and that it falls in the catchment areas. We also very optimistic about the snow that were seen.
“This has not been happening in the past few years which contributed to the low dam levels. we are confident that it’s going to deliver some positive news in the future.”
Snow was reported in the Hottentot Holland Mountain range near Somerset West, Ceres in the Boland and also the Swartberg pass near Oudtshoorn in the Little Karoo. The Outeniqua mountain range on the Garden Route also had a bit of snow.
Some parts of Eastern Cape Province also received a generous amounts of snowfall. The affected areas included Elliot, Barkly East and Alliwal North.
Weather forecaster Phumla Goba said: “It is normal to get some snow in the Eastern Cape especially in the high lying areas. We did get some snow fall reported over the higher lying areas, Newberg mountains which is between Graaff Reinet and Cradock and over the Winterberg mountains including the Southern Drankensberg mountains in areas like Barkly East , Elliot. It was heavy in the northern areas.”
In KwaZulu-Natal Province in the eastern part of the country, below freezing point temperatures were recorded in some parts. A minimum temperature of minus-seven degrees Celsius was recorded at Underberg, minus-four at Kokstad, Ixopo minus-one, Pietermaritzburg two, with Ladysmith and Vryheid at four degrees. Weather forecaster – Aslam Sareiwalla, says warmer weather is on its way.
“Our temperature forecast for today . . . Aah, on average coastal areas will be in the upper teens to lower 20’s. Over the interior of the province it will be middle teens, 15, 16, 17, those sort of temperatures. Towards the south western parts of the province closer to the Drakensberg it is even very cold there, up to about 10 to 12 degrees.”
An estimated 15 fire-related deaths have been reported since the start of winter and again a plea came from Emergency Services with spokesperson Robert Mulaudzi saying: “It’s very important for our residents to refrain from using unregulated paraffin stoves on the roads. We encourage them to buy them from regulated retail stores.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK