Snowfall on Van Reenen's Pass and other parts of South Africa

Road users warned of poor visibility and dangerous driving conditions

30 October 2023 - 09:52
By Nivashni Nair
Snow has fallen in parts of the Drakensberg, Eastern Cape and Free State. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/alexkich Snow has fallen in parts of the Drakensberg, Eastern Cape and Free State. Stock photo.

Heavy snowfall was recorded on Van Reenen's Pass on Monday. 

The N3 Toll Concession (N3TC) said the snow was contributing to reduced visibility and dangerous driving conditions.  

“Icy conditions, snow, rain and freezing temperatures are affecting parts of the N3 toll route this morning. Rain, sleet and snowfall have been reported between Van Reenen's Pass and Warden. These conditions may cause roads to become slippery and dangerous. Drivers are requested to adjust their driving behaviour to the prevailing road and weather conditions,” said N3TC operations manager Thania Dhoogra. 

She warned road users to be prepared for possible traffic congestion and delays.  

“Keep sufficient emergency supplies in your vehicle, including warm clothes and blankets, water, food, medication, a cellphone, its charger and a torch.” 

Snow has fallen in parts of the Drakensberg, Eastern Cape and Free State.

The South African Weather Service (Saws) said the cause of the inclement weather was a combination of two distinct weather systems.  

“Firstly, a strong surface high pressure system, ridging well south of the country, will introduce cold, moisture-laden air over the south-eastern and eastern coast and interior. Secondly, the development of a cut-off low over the central interior of the country, will promote pronounced instability and uplift, thus promoting rainfall over the eastern provinces,” said Saws' Kevin Rae. 

“A further factor which will enhance the likelihood and amount of rain, will be the tropical nature of the air mass. Tropically sourced air is well known to be associated with rainfall of a potentially heavy, widespread nature.”

Last week Rae predicted a significant lowering of the altitude at which sub-zero temperatures occur, commonly referred to as the “freezing level”, will most likely result in disruptive snowfall over the Drakensberg mountains and Van Reenen's Pass from Sunday.  

“Lighter snowfalls can be expected over higher peaks of adjoining provinces such as the Eastern Cape and extreme eastern Free State. There is even a small but distinct possibility of light snowfalls over the Roossenekal pass, as well as the Belfast and Dullstroom areas of the Mpumalanga escarpment, early next week.”