Summer snow in South Africa. Yes, it's a thing!
Johannesburg -- If the cold snap -- presently clutching parts of the country -- following a heat spell has flooded your mind with thoughts of global warming, cool it, the weather pattern is not as bizarre as it seems.
The phenomenon known as "Summer Snow" was best captured in 1816 in Indonesia after Mount Tambora erupted, setting volcanic dust and sulfur dioxide hurtling into the atmosphere which cooled the global-average temperature by 2-3C. The incident was aptly called the Year without a Summer. Several countries around the world have experienced "summer snow".
Back home, South Africa's experience with the phenomenon includes a December snowfall over the western interior of the country in 1950 and 1970. According to blogging site SA Weather Observer, the incidents took place on the Winterhoek mountain range which is about 120KM from Cape Town. It's unclear how much snow fell (one report suggests 20CM) or what the single-digit maximum temperature was.
A collection of snowfall dates in South Africa from 1853 to 2014 on Snow Report SA, corroborates the account of the 1950 snow incident although there are no pictures of the incident. This in itself has opened a discussion over the informal observations (eyewitness accounts) that make up a significant amount of historical incidents of "Summer Snow".
More recently, in 2011, pictures displayed on News24 but which were attained from multiple sources, showed the Winterhoek mountain range was still snowcapped in November.
This week, on Monday and Tuesday, snowfall was reported to have fallen on the peaks of the Drakensberg (article image) and the top of Sani Pass near the boarder of Lesotho. The precipitation fell following two days of "berg winds" that had even reached Gauteng. On Saturday and Sunday, scorching heat and strong winds saw the mercury hover in the mid 30s.