Brrrace yourselves: 'Major' cold front to bring heavy rain, snow to SA

A cold weekend is coming up for most South Africans.
A cold weekend is coming up for most South Africans.
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
  • A 'major' cold front is approaching South Africa and is expected by Thursday, the SAWS says. 
  • It brings with it heavy rain, gale force winds and snow in at least six provinces and Lesotho. 
  • Independent weather analysts say this will be the most eventful winter weekend in Southern Africa in many years. 

It's time to crank up the heater and lay out some extra blankets as a massive cold front is approaching South Africa's shores, bringing with it heavy rain and snow in some parts.

SAWX has reported that a cold front was developing in the South Atlantic and will be arriving on Thursday.

"Our forecasts show this system is not only staying on course but is also strengthening substantially and should make for one of the most eventful winter weekend in Southern Africa in many years," it said on its website.

SAWX is an independent weather service used for educational purposes and by weather enthusiasts.

"A cold weekend is coming up for most South Africans. A significant amount of snowfall, even disruptive in parts, looks very likely from Thursday night or the early hours of Friday morning for the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and even in Lesotho."

"Snowfall is also possible for the high-grounds on the border of the Free State and Mpumalanga. This is an advanced forecast so variables like the areas and amount of snowfall are likely to change at some point," SAWX reported.

Mbavhalelo Maliage, a forecaster at the South African Weather Service (SAWS), told News24 an intense cold front was indeed expected from Thursday.

"This is a major one with a secondary development and will affect the country up to Saturday."

Maliage said the SAWS had issued a warning that heavy rain is to be expected from Thursday in the late afternoon, especially in the Cape metropole and Winelands areas, the Overberg district and the West Coast district in the Western Cape.

"There will also be strong to very strong gale force winds from between 70km/h to 90km/h in the Western Cape, the southern parts of the Northern Cape, and the central Karoo, which will continue until Friday," Maliage said. 

She added the SAWS was expecting strong winds of up to 90km/h along the coastal areas between Cape Columbine and Cape Agulhas on Thursday morning that will continue into Friday.

"We are also expecting some snowfall over the mountainous areas of the Western Cape and the southern Northern Cape from Friday, continuing to Saturday morning.

"Very cold conditions are expected, especially on Friday and Saturday, in the Western Cape, southern parts of the Northern Cape, possibly spilling over into the northwestern interior of the Eastern Cape."

The rainy, cold weather will not reach inland provinces, such as Gauteng, North West, the Free State, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, although cold winds can be expected in some areas.

"Temperatures in Gauteng will start cooling down on Friday," Maliage said, "with temperatures ranging between 14°C (Vereeniging) and 17°C (Pretoria)".

The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) issued a warning about high seas that are expected to accompany the cold weather.

High seas, combined with spring tide and the cold front, are expected along the south and southwest coastline persisting into Monday morning.

"The concern is for smaller vessels at sea navigating through the conditions as well as for beachgoers and coastal hikers who may be caught off-guard by large waves at spring high tide that could potentially sweep them off the rocks along the shoreline," NSRI CEO Cleeve Robertson said.

"We are appealing to boaters, paddlers, beachgoers, surfers, coastal hikers, anglers and the public to be cautious around the coastline and to follow SAWS forecasts," Robertson said.

This article has been edited by replacing the adjective "mammoth", used by SAWX, with "major", used by the SAWS. The SAWS remains the official authority on weather-related matters in South Africa. 
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