Wtiny snowflakes and a fine layer of white powder on cars and roads: it snowed in South Africa. This is not so unusual in winter, even on the southern tip of Africa, but snow is usually found at higher altitudes, in the Drakensberg mountains in the east for example, or in particularly cold regions, sometimes on Table Mountain in Cape Town. Skiing is also available in neighboring Lesotho or on the South African side of the border at the smaller ski resort of Tiffindell.
On Monday, however, residents of the business metropolis of Johannesburg woke up to a “winter wonderland” for the first time in eleven years, enthusiastic commentators on social and other media proclaimed. On the radio, callers reported childhood experiences with snow, speculated about the prospects of building a snowman out of the admittedly not very lush white splendor, and recalled August 2012. At that time, photos of lions and llamas in the snow-covered Johannesburg Zoo went around the world.
Ice, snow and temperatures around the freezing point are of course anything but a pleasure for many people. On Monday, the South African Weather Service announced an “intense cold front” in some parts of the country. The authorities appealed to citizens to use all available heating options. But this is difficult, expensive and risky, especially in the slums.
The power supply is likely to come under additional pressure. South Africa is still stuck in an electricity crisis. The national energy company Eskom has to turn off the power almost every hour in different regions because it cannot meet the demand.
According to the weather service, it should remain cold for the rest of the week, further snowfalls cannot be ruled out – and more pictures of the flurry of flakes.
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