Rare snow storm across the Middle East
A rare snow storm swept across the Middle East Tuesday, cutting off power and closing roads and schools in Israel, Palestinian territories, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan.
The storm was expected to continue until Wednesday, delivering the heaviest snow the region has seen since 1950.
By midmorning Tuesday, one foot had fallen in Jerusalem. Snow also covered northern Israel, the hills of the West Bank and the mountains of Lebanon.
In Israel, Lebanon and Jordan, unaccustomed to winter storms, the snow closed major thoroughfares, including the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem and the Beirut-Damascus highways.
The highway linking the Lebanese and Syrian capitals, which snakes through mountain passes, is one of Lebanon's busiest and its main link with the Arab world. Authorities closed the road at the first mountain ridge, a 15-minute drive from Beirut.
In Lebanon, the storm cut power in parts of Beirut and other areas. Several houses had to be evacuated in northern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley in the east after cracks appeared in buildings. Schools in mountain areas were closed.
Mudslides were reported in some areas in the north and the south and rivers burst their banks in other regions. Officials opened drains at the Qaroun Reservoir on the Litani River in the southern Bekaa Valley to relieve the pressure on the dam after waters had risen to a level unseen in decades.
The storm also dumped more than a foot of snow on parts of northern Jordan. At least 30 motorists were stranded on Amman's hilly streets, which were covered with ice and snow. Several international flights were delayed at Amman's Queen Alia International Airport. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)