The big chill: SA running out of gas
The cold, wet weather battering the country this week has ignited a demand for gas as consumers try to keep their homes warm.
The SA Weather Service has warned of an "extreme, late winter weather system" characterised by snow, bitter cold and strong winds. These conditions are likely to be fatal to people and animals without "adequate shelter".
The weather service reported significant rainfall in KwaZuluNatal yesterday and very low temperatures across the country.
"With the significant drop in temperatures, snowfalls have already been reported in the southwestern parts of KwaZulu-Natal and north-eastern parts of Eastern Cape, with heavy falls in some areas leading to road closures," weather department sources said.
"Heavy rainfall and localised flooding is expected over central and southeastern parts of the country and southern parts of Western Cape from this evening."
Kevin Robertson, CEO of the LP Gas Safety Association, said demand for gas had peaked since the cold weather started and this had led to shortages.
"You are always going to get a big rush with sudden cold snaps and then you get short-term shortages," said Robertson.
"The most important thing people can do, if possible, is to ensure they have a spare (gas cylinder) somewhere because it might take a week to find a refill."
Anton Bredell, Western Cape MEC for Environmental Affairs, has placed municipalities on alert.
Heavy rains were expected in the Eden and Overberg districts last night spreading to the Cape Winelands and west coast today.
These will be accompanied by gale-force winds and rough seas.
Charlotte Powell, of Cape Town's disaster risk management centre, said areas at risk of flooding included Khayelitsha, Strand and Masiphumele, near Kommetjie.
"We are prepared. Centre staff is on high alert and we are working with NGO partners," said Powell.
The mercury dropped to below zero in parts of Eastern Cape yesterday and mountain passes and some schools were closed.
The SA Weather Service strongly advised Cape drivers not to venture into snowy areas on sightseeing and leisure trips.
"There is a distinct risk of being trapped in one's vehicle and facing the danger of hypothermia. At the very least, snowy, icy conditions dramatically increase the risk of serious accidents," the service said. - Additional reporting Riaan Marais