Cape snow and wind misery set to spread to East Cape

Zandile Mbabela, Melanie Gosling, Xolani Koyana and Jason Felix

HEAVY rain, hail and snow lashed the Western Cape at the weekend, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people.

And the cold front is headed towards the Eastern Cape, with gale-force winds, snow and rough seas expected in parts of the province and the Southern Cape today.

Temperatures are expected to drop to lows of between 2°C and 8°C, while maximum temperatures will be in the teens.

Snow is expected along the Sneeuberg Mountains, near Graaff-Reinet, and other high peaks in the western part of the Eastern Cape.

In Cape Town, gale-force north-westerlies ripped off roofs, uprooted trees, and brought down lamp-posts and powerlines.

The City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management Centre said flooding had been reported in 23 residential areas – most of them informal settlements.

More than 2260 people received humanitarian relief after their homes were flooded in areas such as Philippi, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha and Hout Bay.

Many living in shacks woke up to beds surrounded by floodwaters and their belongings sodden, while people in the Boland shivered as snow settled on the mountain peaks.

In the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve, outside Ceres, the snow was so low down on the slopes yesterday that motorists could reach it in ordinary sedans, but only a few determined sightseers made the trip to see the snow, according to nature reserve staff.

Cape Town city centre was transformed by a layer of hail, which turned roads and pavements white, yesterday afternoon.

As the hail drummed on rooftops, piling up in gutters and on window ledges, loud cries went up from traders on Greenmarket Square who tried to hold onto their awnings in the wind while shielding their faces from the hail that drove in under their shelters.

The hailstones had the city’s resident pigeons hopping around bemused at the unusual Cape Town occurrence.

In Camps Bay, the heavy winds brought down two powerlines, while Chapman’s Peak Drive was closed by rockfalls and mudslides.

In Sutherland, just inside the Northern Cape border, it started snowing at 5pm on Saturday and was still snowing yesterday morning.

Resident Mariana Bernardo said: “And now we’ve got no power.”

Cape Town disaster management spokesman Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said 2266 people had been affected by flooding in the city and eight houses had their roofs blown off.

“The city has invoked its extraordinary emergency arrangements,” he said.

Hundreds of residents in the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa were affected first by the flooding and then the hailstorm.

Forecasters say that galeforce northwesterly winds of about 65km/h are expected between Plettenberg Bay and East London, while high seas of six to seven metres are expected between Alexander Bay and Port Alfred today.

It will be very cold on the high ground throughout the province and more snowfalls are expected on the southwestern mountains.

Temperatures in Knysna will be a minimum of 9°C and a maximum of 17°C, Port Elizabeth will be 8°C and 18°C, while Grahamstown will have a maximum of 15°C, GraaffReinet 13°C and East London 19°C. Queenstown will be 3°C rising to 13°C.

Cradock will be a chilly 2°C, warming to 12°C later.

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