N3 snow-seekers warned

2016-07-25 14:09
The heavy influx of vehicles put tremendous pressure on emergency services already working under difficult conditions in the area.

The heavy influx of vehicles put tremendous pressure on emergency services already working under difficult conditions in the area. (Dora Tomlinson, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Authorities have advised snow seekers to stay away from parts of KZN that have received snowfall, or run the risk of being caught in major traffic delays.

The N3 Toll Concession (N3TC), which manages the N3 from Cedara, said that the freezing conditions led to the formation of black ice on the road surface creating very slippery and dangerous driving conditions.

Yesterday, temperatures in places dropped below zero as snow and sleet fell on roads across the province.

Dave Steele, Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) station commander for the Ladysmith district, said that heavy traffic delays and road closures may occur.

“Driving conditions may become dangerous as snow and black ice cause roads to become treacherous. In the event of this happening, roads could be closed in the interests of safety of road users and emergency and rescue teams,” Steele said.

N3TC also made an urgent appeal to road users not to travel under these treacherous conditions.

“It is imperative not to go snow watching. Please heed our warnings. You may be compounding the problem and diverting emergency resources away from critical activities at this time. Ignoring cautionary advice may put yourself and others at risk,” warned Con Roux, N3TC’s commercial manager.

“Emergency teams’ ability to address difficult situations and clear the route as quickly as possible depends heavily on the compliance of all road users. It is therefore recommended to limit travel along the N3 toll route and its feeder roads under these conditions and when the area is deemed inaccessible,” Roux said.

He also encouraged people travelling the route to pack extra blankets, food and refreshments in case they are caught in a lengthy closure.

“People with medical conditions should ensure that they travel with sufficient medical supplies and medication. Also make additional provision for lengthy delays if you are travelling with babies and elderly people. Don’t take any risks, be ready for any eventuality and heed warnings,” Roux said.

By lunch yesterday, Peter Dean, owner of Rawdons Hotel in Nottingham Road, said that visitors and residents could not get a seat for meal in a restaurant anywhere in the Midlands and that they had closed reservations by 10 am.

“We saw streams of cars and thousands of visitors. People are stopping along the N3 to see snow on the roadside and the onramp to the freeway has been blocked off. It snowed during the morning but we are bracing ourselves for cold days ahead. We have our generators ready and are expecting much more snow to fall,” he said.

KZN EMRS spokesperson Robert McKenzie said that there were no major incidents or accidents reported to paramedics.

“Authorities have been doing a lot of work to keep people safe through early warnings and patrols,” he said.

All emergency services, law enforcement agencies, rescue and relief services and disaster management teams in the area have been placed on high alert.

Durban’s weather forecasting office predicted that the province is in for one of the coldest weeks of the year.

Due to cloud cover over the country, forecasters have been prevented from getting a detailed satellite view of where snow is falling in KZN, but the office has since been using other methods and photos on social media to gather information.

Forecaster Julius Mahlangu said that it was going to be very chilly for the majority of the week, especially in the western parts of the province.

“We will see snow falling inland and it is expected to continue until Tuesday, when temperatures will increase slightly,” he said.

Mahlangu advised that motorists should not drive towards the snow and avoid driving around unnecessarily in current conditions.

“It is not safe to drive. A high-pressure system is pushing in moisture from the ocean so we are expecting mist and fog in the interior of the province. The current weather conditions are due to a cut-off low-pressure system where the upper air system is very cold,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  weather  |  snow
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