Enchanting for some, but snow closes roads near Kokstad

2009-08-21 00:00

SNOW in parts of KwaZulu-Natal yesterday closed roads and made a spectacular covering for high peaks in the Drakensberg and high-lying towns.

Although generally welcomed, the snowfalls proved to be a nuisance for Kokstad residents, particularly motorists.

Not only did they have to drive on wet, slippery roads, but some roads were closed for hours.

The Transport Department reported that the R617 was unsuitable to drive on from the early hours of yesterday morning to lunchtime. It said other roads, including the R609 and N2, were badly affected by snowfall, atlhough they were not closed.

Kostad resident Tom Green, of Lindela House B&B, described his wonder at his first African snowfall. The ex-Aussie, who has been in South Africa for a year and a half, was in awe.

“It was brilliant. We woke up to this lovely thatched house covered in white snow. It was proper, big, heavy fluffy stuff.”

He said the snow started at around 6.30 am and then it rained, but by 7 am it was snowing heavily.

Green said the snow was a first for one of their guests, a 44-year-old man from Pretoria. “He called his colleagues and they didn’t believe him.”

From a distance, the snow up in the Berg might have seemed quite serene and tranquil. For those living in nearby areas like Impendle, however, the snow meant bulky jackets, balaclavas and fires.

KZN Wildlife’s Jeff Gaisford said it snowed all the way down to Underberg. “There was light snowfall there, so you can imagine that the snow up in the mountains was quite heavy.”

He added that due to KZN Wildlife’s “24-hour policy”, which gives hikers in the Berg 24 hours to return to the check-in point, there were no reports of overdue hikers.

“We will only know by tomorrow morning,” said Gaisford.

Clear skies have been predicted for today with a maximum of below 22 for the province. Pietermaritzburg will peak at 21 and Giants Castle at a mere 12°C.

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