Snow fell in Johannesburg this week for the first time in more than a decade, causing a flurry of activity among residents eager to see the rare winter wonderland.
South Africa’s Weather Service confirmed on Monday that snow was falling in the province of Gauteng, which includes Johannesburg. Snow was also reported over the Eastern Cape.
Parts of South Africa are accustomed to snow during its winter months, June to August. However, snow last fell in Johannesburg in 2012 and before that in 2007, Jennifer Fitchett, a professor at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, told the South African newspaper TimesLIVE.
It happens “once every 10 years or so,” Ms. Fitchett said. “We’re not an area that has a lot of snowfall and that’s partly because in winter we have dry conditions. We’ve got a strong, high pressure cell, which is why we don’t have any or very little rain in winter months.”
Conditions were, however, conducive to snow across many parts of the city on Monday, prompting residents of all ages take advantage of the fluffy flakes. Pictures and videos on social media showed children making snow angels and snowballs in neighborhood parks and playgrounds. For others, life carried on as normal.
Agnes Mideva, a primary schoolteacher, told the BBC that her students soaked up the experience. “Some of the pupils and I went out to explore,” she said. “Some of them had seen snow before whereas others thought it was raining.”
Ms. Fitchett told TimesLIVE that it was unusual for snow to accumulate in Johannesburg, where the snow usually melts upon hitting the ground. “Our snowfall events are usually short-lived, they’re only a couple of hours,” she said. “Usually, our snowfalls in Johannesburg are not more than a day.”
Despite the pretty appearance, snow can create hazardous travel conditions and could be particularly dangerous for areas that rarely experience it. The Johannesburg Roads Agency warned drivers on Monday morning to be extra careful and be vigilant of pedestrians. “With today’s snow and sleet in Joburg, roads are congested, and visibility is poor,” officials said.