07 August 2012

Snow?!

Soon after I got to work in Johannesburg this morning, I noticed staff straining to look out the window, and someone said a friend told them they had seen snow, but nothing really appeared to be happening, but soon enough, tiny spheres of "snow" started appearing, and everyone dashed outside to see just a few fluffy sleet-like snow falling pretty gently to the ground, but melting almost immediately.


A little while later, there was a definite flurry of activity and everyone rushed out again to see larger pieces of the fluffy balls of partially-melted snow, which accumulated on dark jackets and hair.


A number of people told me I must feel at home, but I explained that while we do see snow in North Carolina, we don't see it every year, and many people still get excited for the first flurries of the season.  A couple people mentioned they remembered seeing about the same amount of snow about 5 years ago, but a few people hadn't seen any snow in nearly 20 years.  I walked across campus to another meeting in the sunshine, and soon after I sat down, we looked up to see what looked like a blizzard.  Soon enough, we headed outside to see the entire horizon frosted in white, nearly covering all of the grass.


As I headed back through the campus, I noticed many people making snowmen, but some weren't quite sure how they were to be composed, and ended up making snow rock piles on snow bases, but they were having fun nonetheless.


While we're not technically in the tropics, the plant life here definitely reminds me of the tropics, so it was cool to see a dusting of snow on Palm trees and other warm-weather plants.


By the time I left work, I was expecting horrible traffic, but the sun had come out, and even though it warmed up only to 36 degrees F (!), the roads were quite warm and there were no major accidents that I happened upon, although the slick roads were a bit odd to see since this was the first precipitation I've seen since I arrived in late June.

According to the South African Weather Service, this may be the first time ever that snow was reported falling in all 9 provinces.  It wasn't a record snowfall in amount, but it was only the 22nd time snow had been recorded in Johannesburg since 1909!

My colleagues in Pretoria were a bit jealous of my wintery wonderland, but by mid-afternoon, the snow had reached the offices there, and it was the first recorded trace of snow in the capital city in 44 years.

I find that most South Africans are not so fond of the cold weather however, and there were warnings of possible power outages overnight as the electrical grid will be strained by heating demands.  It looks like it will stay in the low 30s tonight with chances for another dusting to arrive overnight, and only warm up to 50 or so tomorrow.

Click here to see a great picture of a slightly wary lion at the Johannesburg Zoo.