For the last three days, historical snowfall Alexa has battered the Middle East blanketing the region in frosty layers of white.
Areas in higher altitudes, such as Jordan’s capital Amman, have been covered with almost a meter of snow, and in Cairo, Egyptians received their first dose of the cold, white stuff since 1901! To put things in perspective, the last time there was snow in Cairo 112 years ago, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia-as we know them today-were not yet even established as countries!
Other parts of the Middle East also experienced “once-in-a-generation” levels of snow. Jerusalem last saw this much snow 50 years ago and Lebanon’s Bekaa region’s colossal one meter of snowfall is the highest recorded snowfall since 1953!
Across the region, adults and children alike reacted with a childlike spontaneity to the unexpected snowfall. Many took to the streets to build snowmen and make snow angels, while others pelted fluffy balls of white at companions. For a region used to seeing scorching temperatures, the novelty of a winter wonderland was a frosty treat that melted many shivering faces into warm smiles of excitement.
However, there were hundreds of thousands of people for whom the snowfall was nothing short of a disaster. Yes, of course, there were the folks who were stranded at home and at airports, but the snow served as a real challenge for those who have already been stranded for months-and years-due to the ongoing conflict in Syria. For refugees in Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, as well as those internally displaced in Syria, the snow has brought sickness-and even death. The New York Times reported that more than 9 children have died in Syria from the frosty weather and in Lebanon, where more than 100,000 refugees stay in plastic tents, young children are fighting off the cold huddling together in plastic tarps.
Click through the slideshow to see how historic storm Alexa brought surprise, joy as well as despair across the Middle East.