Warnings as East Cape set to shiver

Gareth Wilson and Bianca Nkomo

STORMY weather, heavy rain and icy conditions are on track to hit the Eastern Cape this afternoon, with temperatures plummeting to as low as 2°C in some mountainous areas.

SA Weather Service forecaster Deon van der Mescht said some inland areas had been upgraded from general watch to warning in the wake of the expected cut- off low pressure system which was likely to bring rain over most of the coast this evening.

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“The main change we have seen is that the pressure system will be delayed by a few hours and is now expected to hit late afternoon,” he said.

Last night, a weather warning was issued to farmers in Koukamma, Baviaanskloof and the high ground west of Cradock, where temperatures were expected to plummet.

“The coastal areas will receive the bulk of the rain, which will then move inland to the western area of the Eastern Cape,” Van der Mescht said.

“Heavy rain is expected over the south-eastern parts of the Eastern Cape from Plettenberg Bay to East London, including Grahamstown, Peddie, Tsitsikamma and Joubertina, from [this afternoon].

“[Tomorrow] the cut-off low will then spread to the northern and central interior.”

Van der Mescht said snow was expected on the higher lying inland areas of the Drakensberg, Graaff-Reinet and Sneeuberg mountains tomorrow afternoon.

The mercury will hover between 4°C and 8°C at Graaff- Reinet and between 4°C and 9°C at Queenstown and Cradock. It will peak at 13°C at Mthatha, King Williams Town and Port Elizabeth. Rain of up to 150mm has been forecast for the Port Elizabeth area.

While emergency workers remain on high alert, some inland guest resorts say they have been bombarded with calls from people seeking snow.

Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism spokeswoman Veliswa Mhlope said an influx of visitors was expected. “We don’t believe [the snow] will deter people from coming to the province – it will instead make them want to come and experience it.”

Hogsback Bubuhle cottage owner Doug Mylroie said he had been bombarded with enquiries. “The phones go mad when there’s a prediction of snow.”

Organisers of the weekend’s outdoor events, however, remain on edge as the weather could keep spectators away.

Coca-Cola u-18 Craven Week local organising committee chairman Thando Hallam said while there were concerns about crowd turnout, the game would go on. Biltong Festival event official Marette Liddell also said the show would go on.

VW spokesman Matt Gennrich said the Volkswagen Rally would continue as planned irrespective of the weather.

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