Weather warnings for SA

2006-08-02 14:10

Johannesburg - Weather SA warned that more heavy rain and snow was expected for the country on Wednesday.

Heavy rain is forecast for the coast from the Garden Route to the Eastern Cape while cold is expected in the interior.

"Heavy falls of rain are expected along the Garden Route, eastern parts of the Little Karoo and along the south-east coast between Plettenberg Bay and Port Alfred, including the adjacent interiors," said Weather SA.

The rest of the country is facing bitterly cold conditions.

"Very cold conditions are expected over Gauteng highveld, Mpumalanga highveld, North West province, Free State, Northern Cape, high ground areas of the Western Cape, Eastern Cape interior as well as the western interior of KwaZulu-Natal," said Weather SA.

Snow expected overnight

"Snowfalls are expected over the eastern high grounds of the Western Cape, Lesotho, southern Drakensberg as well as the Eastern Cape high ground where it will be heavy in places.

"Gale to strong gale force south-westerly winds are expected between Plettenberg Bay and East London.

"Very rough seas with wave heights in excess of five metres are expected between Plettenberg Bay and East London."

The bad weather is expected to continue on Thursday.

"Very cold conditions will persist over the south-eastern high grounds on Thursday. Further heavy falls of rain are expected over the Eastern Cape.

"Gale force south-westerly winds accompanied by very rough seas are expected between Plettenberg Bay and Richards Bay on Thursday." Rain will continue in the Southern Cape, where more than 170mm of rain fell in 24 hours, the SA Weather Service said on Wednesday.

Weather SA spokesperson in Port Elizabeth, Garth Sampson, said reports of snow in the region had been received from Graaff Reinet, Nieu Bethesda, Colesberg, Burgersdorp, Smithfield and Redersburg.

SABC reported that roads and passes were closed in the Graaff Reinet and Middelburg area due to snow. These included roads between Cradock and Graaff Reinet, and the Lootsberg Pass between Graaff Reinet and Middelburg.

"Moderate to heavy falls are expected to move in over the Port Elizabeth area from early evening and persist until Thursday morning.

"These conditions will spread to the East London area later," said Sampson.

Rough sea conditions

He said conditions were expected to clear from the west from Thursday afternoon.

The weather has so far claimed four lives after a car was washed away in floods in George on Wednesday, said southern Cape police.

"We recovered four bodies from the river, one a three-year-old girl. The others are a 15-year-old boy and two adult men," said spokesperson Captain Malcolm Pojie.

"They were believed to be occupants of that car."

The vehicle was washed off the Pienaar Street bridge over the Molen River in Conville, George, on Tuesday when the bridge collapsed in the floods.

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said there was a warning out to boaters along the coastline due to the very rough sea conditions.

"The NSRI from Wilderness have launched a canoe to fetch a woman on the Groot Brak River who is suffering from TB. Her medicine has run out and she is trapped by the floods," said NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon.

The Knysna golf course was reported to be completely underwater.

Flights disrupted

The George airport reopened after being closed due to flooding since Tuesday.

A total of 24 flights had been disrupted by the closure. SABC reported that all major routes in the Southern Cape and Little Karoo were closed to traffic, following rockfalls in mountain passes in the continuing heavy downpours. Oudtshoorn was cut off from the outside world.

A provincial traffic official said no cars were being allowed on the Robinson pass between Mossel Bay and Oudtshoorn, the Outeniqua Pass between George and Oudtshoorn and the Huisrivier Pass at Calitzdorp.

Meiringspoort between Oudtshoorn and Beaufort West has been closed in two places, as well as the road between Ladismith and Riversdale. The N2 was closed at Sedgefield because of rockfalls at Knysna, and there is heavy mist at the Hex River Pass as well as Touwsriver.

The Wabooms Kraal dam has burst, and the dam level at Meiringspoort is rising sharply. Earlier, a woman was rescued at the Vlei River near Calitzdorp when her car was swept away.

The SABC reported that more than 120 people from the Powertown informal settlement in Klein Brak spent the night in the local community hall while more than 100 were housed in the Blanco Hall in George.