Southern Africa Freezes, Rare Snowfall Hits Johannesburg
Southern Africa is enduring fierce freeze this week as a blast of polar air engulfs the likes of SA, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, as well as Angola, Zambia and Malawi.
Coastal regions are struggling to climb above 10C (50F), while at higher-elevations and inland, frosts are proving widespread, with reports of rare snowfall coming out of some unusual spots such as Zimbabwe and South Africa, such as Johannesburg.
Elaborating on the latter, snow has fallen on Johannesburg for the first time in more than a decade–since August 2012.
Temperatures also held low enough to keep the snow lying on the ground throughout the morning, bringing joyous scenes to many a school playground — this would have been the first time many children have seen snow (Prof David Viner take note).
The South African Weather Service (SAWS) has issued several cold weather warnings across much of the country, with drivers told to be careful of icy roads: “Cold weather conditions have battered parts of the country,” read part of the SAWS statement.
Several regions of South Africa are enduring a harsh winter this year, according to local media outlets, with this past weekend delivering an intensification. Sub-zero (C) lows struck Johannesburg and surrounding areas over the past few mornings, with daytime highs of just 4C (39.2F) noted–where the July average is closer to 17C (62.6F).
Regional forecaster Gauteng Weather said today (Monday) will be a contender for one of the coldest days of the past few decades — a situation worsened by the fact that the country is currently in the throes of its worst-ever energy crisis.
For as long as known, South Africa has faced planned power cuts, dubbed ‘loadshedding’. And for a string of reasons, not least corruption, the country’s utility provider Eskom has not been able to consistently provide power since 2007.
The loadshedding has worsened in recent years, with the the average South African now going without electricity for 6.2 hours a day. In real terms, this means many families are having to face this anomalously cold and snowy week without heating, hot water or the ability to cook on an electric stove.
“Snow was observed in the areas such as Soweto, Alberton and Roodepoort,” continued the SAWS statement. Other areas include the eastern areas of Gauteng — Heidelberg and parts of Vosloorus.”
“Severe frost is expected overnight as well as on Wednesday morning. The public is also warned to keep warm during these cold conditions,” added SAWS; farmers, too, are advised to shelter livestock and protect vulnerable crops.
Summer Snows Slam Northern India, Effort Underway To Rescue 300 Trapped Tourists
Following yesterday’s reports or rare summer snow at Skardu, heavier accumulations have been noted elsewhere across Northern India, including Losar in Lahaul and across the Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh.
An “unexpected spell of snowfall hit various parts of north India” in recent days, according to the hindustantimes.com.
“Losar village received an unexpected sudden snowfall as various parts of north India are affected,” the article reports officials as saying. The entire village was covered with a thick layer of summer snow on Sunday:
So heavy was the snow at Chandertal glacial lake, in Spiti valley, that a rescue effort was launched Tuesday to reach 300 tourists trapped up the mountain.
District Deputy Commissioner, Rahul Kumar confirmed that 300 people are stranded in Chandratal and would be rescued Tuesday, weather permitting — efforts began at 0500hrs but were stopped as the snow intensified.
The majority of the stranded are Indian tourists, but foreigners are also present: two from Ireland and at least one from the USA.
District Superintendent of Police Mayank Chaudhry succeeded in tracing the camping site of stranded Tourists over the weekend, and subsequently, a police party, including some mountaineers, managed to establish contact with the group.
The party are thought to be safe in their camp, which is where they’ve been asked to stay until help arrives.
Millions Of Aussies Hit By “Brutal Cold Snap”
As reported by Australian news outlets, temperatures have plunged to freezing levels across the likes of Queensland as a polar front traverses southern and eastern Aussie states, cold that won’t let up until the weekend.
Residents in the sunshine state shivered through readings as low as -7.7C (18.1F) overnight Monday; a plunge that made for the coldest July readings in years across the likes of Applethorpse (-4.7C/23.5F) and Warwick (-2.3C/27.9F).
Many woke to below freezing temperatures Tuesday, including Canberra residents (-2C/28.4F).
“Lots of windy weather making its way through, all to do with this cold front that continues to push eastwards as we head through the day today,” said Sky News Meteorologist Bradlyn Oakes.
“Severe weather warnings for areas in Tasmania (remain) where we’re going to continue see damaging winds go through.”
The Bureau of Meteorology is forecasting upcoming lows of 7C (44.6F) for Syndey, with Melbourne and Hobart expecting similarly anomalous readings; Melbourne will hold cold until at least Thursday, too, enduring unusual lows of 9C (48.2F).
“This high pressure area that stretches out across the country will lead to cool conditions across our mornings,” explained Oakes. “As the high pressure just sticks around, our mornings are going to be chilly and frosty … Widespread frost is expected on Wednesday morning from Western Australia through to our eastern states.”
The bureau has also issued a alerts to farmers during this polar blast.
“Sheep graziers are warned that cold temperatures and easterly winds are expected during Wednesday. There is a risk of losses of lambs and sheep exposed to these conditions.”