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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


It’s going to get warmer – expert

South Africa is gripped by extreme cold, with snow, ice, and freezing temperatures affecting various regions.


From ice, rain, black frost and snow, it was all hell, or rather cold, let loose in South Africa as a second cold front made landfall at the beginning of the week.

Reports of extreme cold weather, strong winds, sleet, ice, rain, hail, a storm surge and snow have flooded social media as the country experienced the coldest day of the year so far this year following a cold front over the weekend.

Vox Weather meteorologist Annette Botha said the snow in Kouebokkeveld, Western Cape, was cold, but not enough to “freeze your socks off”, like other parts of South Africa with below zero temperatures.

ALSO READ: Get your blankets out: ‘Coldest night so far in 2024’ to hit Gauteng this week

“Sometimes it’s warmer when it snows because the air needs to be just right – cold enough for flakes but not too frigid to dampen the snowfall,” she said.

“When it snows, the atmosphere typically needs to be cold enough for water vapour to condense into snowflakes. However, if the air temperature is extremely cold, it can be too dry for significant snowfall.”

Heavier snowfall possible

Botha said warmer temperatures around freezing point can often mean there’s more moisture in the air, which can lead to heavier snowfall.

“So, it can be ‘warmer’ – around 0oC or slightly above – when it snows compared to when it’s very cold and dry, well below 0oC, without snow,” she said.

South African Weather Service meteorologist Celeste Fourie said the second cold front was expected to enter the Western Cape today, but isn’t as intense as the previous system.

“The second cold front won’t hit Gauteng as hard with temperatures to start warming up by Wednesday with maximum temperatures expecting to rise to 22oC,” she said.

Fourie said the southwestern side of the country would be cold. “We are still looking at low minimums but will recover from Thursday to about 6oC in the morning,” she said.

ALSO READ: Cold fronts bring heavy rain, winds and snow to Western Cape and Eastern Cape

TLU chair Bennie van Zyl said the weather patterns in SA are varied and extreme in nature.

“If you don’t wash away, crops will die in a heatwave. The cold has an impact on farmers. Here in Limpopo, farmers got black frost which they are not used to. It’s a big problem,” he said.

Van Zyl said farmers were warned to get livestock into shelter in time.

“On the other hand, one is also grateful when one gets the snow, when that moisture melts from the snow it is a supplement for the streams and rivers and the underground water fills up,” he said.

Van Zyl said places that were used to the cold already have specific strategies and plans to deal with and overcome the cold.

Meanwhile, South Africa National Defence Force spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini said the bodies of four soldiers who died in Orkney, North West, were transported to the Klerksdorp state mortuary for investigation and post-mortems.

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