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South Africa: Johannesburg experiences rare snowfall

Monde Sussman (L) takes a picture of Gabriel Sussman (R) as snow falls in Zoo Lake park in Johannesburg on July 10, 2023   -  
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South Africa

Johannesburg's residents woke up to snowfall on Monday, as the city and other high-lying parts of South Africa were hit by a cold front.

The weather services warned of potential road closures and dangerously cold temperatures. 

The snowfall in Gauteng province was caused by the cold front, which reached South Africa late last week, morphing into a weather system known as a "cut-off low". 

Such weather is not completely unheard of in Johannesburg, which lies at an altitude of more than 1,700 metres, yet it is still rare. The last times snowfall was seen were in 2012 and 1996. 

For many locals, the snow was a welcome novelty on Monday. 

At a Johannesburg kindergarten, excited children made snowballs and attempted to catch flakes with their tongues - some having never witnessed snow before.

However, with the snowfall reported across southern parts of Gauteng and expected to continue falling throughout the day, as well as in some areas of the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, the South African Weather Service warned that icy temperatures posed a risk to street dwellers in a country where poverty remains widespread. 

The severe cold could also dampen hopes of an end to power cuts. South Africa's electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said in early July that the country could be nearing an end to the daily power cuts which have plagued the country. 

Heightened heating demands, however, could outstrip electricity supply as the South African winter continues in July and August.

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