As a cold front grips KwaZulu-Natal, snow seekers are already booking into accommodation venues in the Drakensberg for the coming weekend.
The high mountains in the ’Berg area already covered with snow, while heavy rain has fallen in Pietermaritzburg, the KZN Midlands and the South Coast.
Meanwhile, the Afriski Mountain Resort in Lesotho said snow started falling at around 5.30 am on Tuesday, creating a road hazard for vehicles wanting to travel to the Mountain Kingdom.
Roads into Lesotho are closed to 2x4 vehicles and even those travelling in 4x4s are urged to be careful.
On Monday, the South African Weather Service (Saws) issued a warning that significant snowfall was expected in the Drakensberg Mountains and surrounding areas, including Kokstad and Underberg.
Meanwhile, ’Berg resorts are anticipating a spike in bookings from people who want to get a closer look at the snow. Angelique van Rensburg, of Windmill Farm Cottages in Bergville, and the Gooderson Drakensberg Gardens Golf and Spa Resort both said they were expecting to be flooded with bookings from people who love snow chasing.
Weather forecaster, Wiseman Dlamini, told The Witness that the wintery weather conditions will improve only in the eastern parts of the province on Friday.
“We are expecting 60% chance of showers and thunderstorms in Pietermaritzburg and Durban for Wednesday [today] and Thursday. For the Midlands, we are expecting a 30% chance of showers from Tuesday. Cold temperatures across the province will improve gradually over the weekend with 30% of showers in Pietermaritzburg and Durban,” he added.
Dlamini said there have been unconfirmed reports of snow in the Kokstad area and that they are expecting the possibility of snow in the Drakensberg over the weekend.
Heavy rains and local floods expected
KZN MEC for Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Sipho Hlomuka, urged those using the roads to carefully plan their trips and to keep a close eye on the weather conditions.
“We are appealing to all communities in the areas that are expected to receive significant snowfall to be vigilant and to postpone any unnecessary trips,” he added.
Hlomuka also warned that heavy rain was expected in uMkhanyakude, eastern Zululand and the eastern part of King Cetshwayo district.
The cold, wintery weather is likely to extend to the northern parts of the province, where the risk of localised flooding will be high, the MEC added.
Disaster management teams are on alert across the province and will be monitoring all major routes and areas that are prone to flooding.
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On the South Coast, assessments and exams were postponed at the Creston College on Tuesday due to heavy rain and local floods. The school’s spokesperson, Karen Boland, said the principal advised parents that they were welcome to keep their children at home yesterday because of bad road conditions.
The Ray Nkonyeni Municipality Fire and Rescue Centre confirmed the heavy rainfall, saying that all lower level bridges were overflowing, making them unsafe to use.