Storm misery to drag on for days

Storm misery to drag on for days
Lebanon's chief weather expert says storm system over Lebanon and Jordan will bring blizzards, wave surges, heavy rain and high winds until at least Sunday.
2 min read
08 January, 2015

Severe storm conditions battering several Arab countries are due to remain until at least Sunday, Lebanon's chief meteorologist has said.

Countries including Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan declared states of emergency as the storm, known variously as Zeina, Salam and Huda, hit the region on Tuesday - bringing snow, icy temperatures, heavy rain and high-speed winds.

Mark Wahibi, Lebanon's weather service director, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that the storm formed over eastern Europe, moved towards Greece and then hit Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

He said the storm system would continue to whip up winds of up to 100kph, storm surges in coastal areas and snow at altitudes of 500m above sea level.

He said the storm was bigger than Alexa, which hit Lebanon and several other Arab countries in December 2013.

The snow storm has at least produced some dramatic photos. Click here for some of the best.

"The damage from the current storm has been more severe, especially to coastal buildings and boats. We would warn fishermen of potentially dangerous high waves," he said.

"Residents should avoid travelling to mountainous or coastal regions unless in emergency. Remaining indoors during the storm is preferred, but if need dictates, then one should comply with the guidelines issued by the security forces and civil defence teams."

A storm by any other name

The storm battering the region has been named Zeina ("the adorned") in Lebanon, Huda ("guidance") in Jordan and Salam ("peace") in Syria. Unlike with hurricanes, there is no international system that agrees names for storms.

Lebanon's official National News Agency (NNA) reported a risk of flooding as river levels rose.

NNA also reported that the storm led to power cuts, blocked roads and disruption to communications in some areas, as electricity and phone pylons were damaged.

Wahabi said the storm pattern was unusual for the region.

"Such snow storms usually occur in the north of North America, Grenada, Siberia and Scandinavia," he said.

"The winter cold winds start to formulate in Scandinavia and eastern Europe then move west. Consequently, these regions remain very cold all through the season.

"Outside Europe, winds tend to be extremely dry and cold and are accompanied with some clouds and a noticeable drop in temperature."

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.