Brace yourself for more snow and cold

2011-07-30 15:34

As sub-zero weather conditions swept across the country this week, even bringing light snow to Auckland Park in Joburg on Friday morning, speculation was rife that we are starting to feel the effects of climate change.

But an expert climato­logist said this was not necessarily the case and that this year’s cold ­winter was nothing out of the ordinary for South ­Africa.

Hundreds of motorists were stuck on the N3 highway on Tuesday as snow made roads inpassable.

Most affected were the Drakensberg areas in KwaZulu-Natal, ­Lesotho and Eastern Cape.

“Yes, it is unusual but not unprecedented,” said climatologist Dr Willem Landman.

“People always get worked up about climate change, but it is ­predicted that we will only be able to see its real effects decades from now.”

He added that weather ­science has not even developed sufficiently to accurately ­predict weather patterns over the next five to 10 years.

“We live in a country where weather patterns can be ­extreme,” he said.

Gauteng has had some “warm” winters over the past few years, but the cold weather experienced this winter is not exceptional.

Mkhushulwa ­Msimanga, a senior forecaster at the South African Weather Service, said: “The snowfall was a result of a cold front that started on ­Sunday and was coming from the west with a strong surface-high system pushing a cold air mass into the interior, mainly over the southern and central parts of the country.”

South Africans cannot breathe a sigh of relief yet and should brace themselves for more cold weather conditions.

Msimanga said the season still promised further rain and ­snowfall over certain parts of the country.

“It’s still early to predict when the snow will end,” said Msimanga, but added that there was nothing unusual about the drop in ­temperature currently being experienced.

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