Jul

SNOWBOUND ON N3 – A wake up call to climate change

2011-07-01 18:56
The Military from 5 SAI in Ladysmith did a sterling job in clearing the road down the pass. They also took truck drivers to their base for a warm meal and dropped them back at their trucks the next morning. Well done the Army.

At around 17h15 on Monday July 25th the first few snowflakes started falling around the Van Reenen area in the Free State. It looked pretty at first but then, as the flakes got bigger and the snow storm more intense, the realisation hit that big trouble was on its way. For the next three days, one of the worst snow storms ever to hit the area saw thousands of trucks stuck and the N3 closed between Van Reenen’s Pass and Villiers. It played havoc with supply chains writes Patrick O’Leary.

Graders were brought in after the first night to clear snow from the road to enable brine (a premixed salt  solution) to be laid.

Graders were brought in after the first night to clear snow from the road to enable brine (a premixed salt solution) to be laid.

Yes, we know these pages are dedicated to Green Trucking issues and yet all you can see on these pages is black and white. However, if ever there was a wake-up call to South African truckers that our environment is changing with weather patterns going ‘˜wonky’, then this is it. This should strengthen our resolve to clean up our acts wherever we can and take environmental responsibility seriously.

Mountains shouting in delight at the sight of snow capping the '˜Berg'

Mountains shouting in delight at the sight of snow capping the ‘˜Berg’

In the 1980s, you will recall driving between Johannesburg and Durban and gazing towards the distant Drakensberg Mountains shouting in delight at the sight of snow capping the ‘˜Berg’. It was a long way from the road -and much higher. It never affected us. Then, in 2001, a vicious snow-storm hit the Van Reenen area covering the N3 in snow. It took everyone by surprise and the totally unprepared truck drivers who were stranded on Van Reenen’s Pass for three days had a really hard time of it. They had no extra food, blankets or other provisions.

See the story on our web site at: http://www.fleetwatch.co.za/magazines/sept01/52-SnowZone.htm

Graders were brought in after the first night to clear snow from the road to enable brine (a premixed salt  solution) to be laid.

Graders were brought in after the first night to clear snow from the road to enable brine (a premixed salt solution) to be laid.

Seven years passed when, on June 27th 2007, there was another heavy snow fall in the area resulting in the closure of the N3 around Van Reenen’s Pass. However, it was nowhere near as intense as the 2001 storm and the road only stayed closed for a few hours. Now, only three years later -on July 25th 2011 – the mother of all snow storms hit the area causing wide-spread disruptions and total chaos to the trucking industry. Millions of Rand were lost due to trucks being stuck in the snow in kilometre long queues both on the south and north-bound lanes of the N3.

Drivers were better prepared than in 2001. Per'chance operators took note of the FleetWatch/N3TC Winter Driving poster recently circulated.

Drivers were better prepared than in 2001. Per’chance operators took note of the FleetWatch/N3TC Winter Driving poster recently circulated.

It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to realise that weather patterns are changing all around the world and that we each need to do our bit to minimise the environmental impacts of all our actions. Ice around the Polar caps is melting and sunny South Africa is getting hit by snow storms. That’s change! While these pictures are dramatic, the reason FleetWatch is showing them is to have them act as a catalyst to those companies which don’t have the environment on the boardroom table as yet, to please do so.

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