Very cold and wet weather is expected

2012-08-07 00:00

AFTER KZN residents were lulled into thinking spring was in the air at the weekend, winter returned with a vengeance yesterday.

Parts of the province were plunged into chaos after devastating hailstorms struck Richmond, Chatsworth, Durban, Ixopo, Eston and Camperdown.

Durban weather forecaster Lucky Makhwedzha warned that severe thunderstorms were expected over southern KZN until tomorrow afternoon.

The hailstorm that tore through Tala Valley in Camperdown yesterday caused extensive damage on farms and some telephone lines were knocked down, said resident Gail Cornhill.

“The hail covered lawns, sugar cane fields and gardens with a thick layer of ice,” she said.

Local vegetable farmer Alan Peach lost all the crops on his 15 hectare farm. Other farmers were still assessing the damage. Peach said it was the fourth or fifth time he had suffered hail damage.

KZN Agricultural Union president Brian Aitken said he knew about the hailstorms, but had not had detailed damage reports.

In Baynesfield near Richmond, hailstones covered the ground in a thick layer resembling snow.

Said Richmond mayor Andrew Ragavaloo: “We were on our way to Durban when we came across this. It was terrible. There was a lot of traffic … ”

The MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nomusa Dube, said disaster experts had warned most parts of KZN would experience very low temperatures for most of the week.

“Therefore many families are likely to try to keep themselves warm by lighting open fires … We urge our people to be careful …”

Weather forecaster Mduduzi Mthembu said snow, heavy rain and very cold weather were expected in Kokstad, Underberg, Matatiele, and Giants Castle overnight.

Temperatures in Underberg and Kokstad would fall to minus 1°C with a high of 15°C and 14°C degrees respectively, while Giant’s Castle would hit a freezing with a maximum of 8°C tomorrow. Newcastle, Van Reenen and Ladysmith would experience extreme weather conditions, including snow.

There was an 80% chance of showers and thundershowers expected until tomorrow, said Mthembu.

Severe thunderstorms were expected along the South Coast in the Margate, Port Edward and Port Shepstone areas today, but skies would start clearing tomorrow.

Mthembu said there would be a 30% to 60% chance of showers and thundershowers for the rest of KZN.

He said the cold weather was caused by a cold front along the coast and in upper air troughs in the central interior.

There should be some improvement by Thursday as the skies would be clearer, but another cold front was expected to hit the province on Sunday, he warned.“Very cold and wet weather is expected in the province on Sunday,” said Mthembu.

Siyatheba.Ben@media24.com

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