Monday, April 25, 2005

Surprise snowfalls on Drakensberg peaks

Mercury - Surprise snowfalls on Berg peaks: "Surprise snowfalls on Berg peaks
April 25, 2005

By Stephanie Saville

National weather forecasters were forced to admit yesterday that weather could not always be accurately predicted, as the first snowfalls of the season wafted down on the high ground of KwaZulu-Natal.

The unpredicted light snowfall on the highest peaks of the Drakensberg on Saturday took the weather bureau by surprise as it had predicted freezing levels of 12 000 feet (3 658m). Snow will usually fall in the area at freezing levels of 10 000 feet (3 048m).

'Unfortunately we didn't foresee this one coming,' said a surprised forecaster from the Johannesburg meteorology office.

'We had actually discussed the possibility of snow falling on the Berg, but decided that the chance was far too remote to actually include it in our forecast,' he laughed.

The snow, which spread out on the highest mountains in a thin, patchy layer, was visible from the N3 between Mooi River and Estcourt yesterday.
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A spokesman from the Durban Weather Bureau said that the snow had fallen on Saturday and had surprised forecasters there as well.

With many self-proclaimed weather buffs predicting that this will be a dramatically cold winter, owing to the late rain in the province and the high water table, the forecasters in Johannesburg say that this is not necessarily the case, because a high water table is not necessarily an indicator of a very cold winter.

Meanwhile, according to the weather bureau, KwaZulu-Natal will shiver this week as a cold front closes in on the province.

Cloudy, cold weather with showers is forecast along the coastal belt. - Pietermaritzburg Bureau"