Joined: 30 Oct 2006
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Location: Nova Scotia
Posted: Fri May 25, 2007 7:50 pm Post subject: Time to Pack Up the Ski's & Head to South Africa
Globol Warming at its best....
Icy weather grips South Africa
May 24, 2007 - 6:49AM
Freezing temperatures gripping South Africa killed at least 22 people this week as millions of the country's poor battled to keep warm.
Snow has fallen in large parts of the country, closing mountain passes and leaving people and buses trapped. Temperatures are expected to drop further with the onset of the coldest weather of the year.
Passengers on South Africa's luxury Blue Train were left without heat when the train ran out of diesel on Monday night, just as the cold snap closed in.
At least 13 people have died of exposure in the badly hit Eastern Cape province, while the most of the other deaths have been the result of fire-related incidents.
Fires caused massive damage in the country's many crowded informal settlements where millions live in shacks built with cheap flammable materials and use coal or paraffin stoves for heating.
Heavy snow was reported over the southern and eastern Cape as well as the southern Drakensberg mountains while the South African Weather Service said 54 new record temperatures were recorded across the country.
The lowest minimum temperature recorded was minus six degrees celsius, while the lowest maximum temperature was 1.7 degrees celsius, both on Monday night.
The highest rainfall recorded was 71.2mm in the southern Cape's Tsitsikamma region.
However, temperatures of minus eight degrees celsius and minus seven degrees celsius are expected.
None of this week's records reached the lowest temperatures ever recorded in the country of minus 18.6 degrees celsius at the Eastern Cape town of Buffelsfontein in 1996.
About 45 bus passengers spent a chilly Monday night trapped in snow on the Lootsberg Pass in the Eastern Cape while six workers from a telephone company had to brave the cold on the province's Katberg mountain when they went to help colleagues who had got into trouble, the South African Press Association reported.
SAPA also reported that it was the first time in the 60 year history of the Blue Train that the diesel tanks dried up on passengers, both local and international.
Apparently the required documents were not signed on time, resulting in a shortage of diesel, which left passengers without water or electricity.
Rates for the train, which has hosted kings and presidents, range from 8,000 rands ($A1,385) to 17,000 rands ($A2,945) depending on the season and the suite booked.
The weather service said the icy conditions are expected to persist for about another week as a series of cold fronts pass over the country.
South Africa's power supplier, Eskom, has said it can produce enough electricity to meet the country's demands despite reported outages in some parts of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
However, it warned that if a number of generators failed it would be forced to introduce a system of scheduled power outages known as load-shedding.
SAPA reported that the country's electricity consumption was at its highest with an increase of 1,174 megawatt from last year.
Concerns have been raised about South Africa's ability to meet electricity needs and there are fears that the 2010 Soccer World Cup will be marred by blackouts.
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