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Heavy snow storm pummels Middle East
December 14, 2013, 2:02 am

Wherever snow fell, children - like these in Amman, Jordan - rushed outside to play [Xinhua]

Wherever snow fell, children – like these in Amman, Jordan – rushed outside to play [Xinhua]

A rare snow storm has blanketed many of the Middle East’s cities causing traffic disarray and concern for homeless people who do not have the means to deal with the single digit temperatures.

From Ankara to Jerusalem, snow and freezing rain led to flooding in many areas with residents scrambling to deal with the unexpected weather patterns.

Snow fell in parts of the Egyptian capital Cairo on Friday, leading to a flurry of exchanged pictures of the rare event on social media. Heavy rain forced many unused to the wet flurries to wear plastic bags on their heads.

According to the weather report on a number of Egyptian news networks, temperatures dipped to the 3C to 5C region on Friday night, with heavy rains and sleet expected until early Sunday. Alexandria’s main port was closed for a third day.

In Jerusalem, snow storm Alexa led to a number of roads and highways to be closed; Dozens of cars were stranded on Israel’s main highways as nearly 15 inches of snow blocked access.

Media there quoted Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barakat as saying the storm was unlike anything he had seen as hundreds had to contend with outages due to downed power lines.

In the Gaza Strip, heavy rain water caused flooding in many parts of the heavily populated city, forcing relief crews to pump water out of the area.

In neighbouring Jordan, the authorities advised residents in the capital Amman to remain indoors. Many roads in and out of the capital and to the provinces were blocked due to heavy snow and sleet.

The turbulent weather delayed for a second day urgent relief supplies scheduled to be flown from Erbil in Iraq’s northern Kurdistan region to Syria. The snow, rain and sleet has already flooded some refugee camps in Syria and in Lebanon.

Earlier in the week, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) emphasised the plight of some 125,000 refugees living in tents in 200 camps in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. It has already started distributing stoves, blankets, winter kits and ATM cards with $150 in funds for refugees to purchase electric heaters and other needed items.

It also said it would try and deliver 40 tonnes of supplies to at least 10,000 families displaced in northern Syria.

Source: Agencies