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Snow, Freezing Temperatures Refrigerate South Africa

July 7, 1996

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ Large swaths of South Africa turned into a winter wonderland Sunday, thanks to the heaviest snowfall in at least 15 years.

Snow _ up to six inches in some places _ fell in seven of the country’s nine provinces, a rare occurrence in a nation known more for sunshine and semi-arid plateaus.

A cold front combined with a high moisture system created the storm and sent temperatures plunging over the weekend, said Darryl Myburgh, a spokesman for the national weather service in Pretoria.

In Kroonstad, 150 miles south of Pretoria, more than two inches of snow fell overnight _ the first snow there since 1963, the South African Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The lowest temperature so far was 10 degrees at Lady Grey in Free State province, south of Johannesburg. Snow closed some mountain roads, and at least one death was blamed on the cold.

Myburgh said it was too soon to say if the cold snap or snowfall was record-setting, but it was certainly the largest snowfall since a 1981 storm.

For many, it was the first heavy snow of their lives.

``The trees in my garden are covered and there is very thick snow everywhere,″ Corrie Labuschagne of Harrismith, 120 miles south of Johannesburg, told the South African Press Association. ``It looks like a picture on a Christmas card.″