Severe Weather Causing Middle East Mayhem and Deaths

floods in amman jordan
Roads have become rivers throughout Amman, Jordan after three days of torrential rainfall. Strong winds and falling temperatures have literally put this city on ice.

Severe weather is pummeling the Middle East. Latest reports puts the death toll at dozens. I’m fresh back from a trip to my family’s two homesteads: the USA, where we toured New Jersey’s hurricane-battered shoreline, and the UK, where new lakes of rainwater cover Cotswolds’ fields and the British Meteorological Office declared the highest annual precipitation since they began keeping records. An exceptional spate of extreme weather events?  Or is this climate change? (I’ll duck under my keyboard so comment-hurling can commence).

Bad weather’s no stranger to those places, but the Mid East dressed up in alpine weather?  Surreal.

Early this week, the Greater Amman Municipality announced a moderate state of emergency in the capital to deal with predicted severe weather conditions.  Yesterday, the Prime Minister issued a directive closing all government and public offices; most schools had already issued pre-emptive shut-downs.

Amman floods

In northern Jordan, relief workers were injured in a human stampede at a Syrian refugee camp where hundreds of tents have been destroyed by the rains, according to a report in the Irish Journal.

Anmar Hmud, a government spokesman for refugee affairs, told reporters, “Refugees started to push each other as they ran towards aid workers. They hurled stones at each other and there was a stampede, which hurt some aid workers.”  The incident occurred at the Zaatari camp on the Syrian border, where two days of heavy rains have destroyed hundreds of tents. Over 60,000 refugees live in that camp.

In Lebanon, Beirut roads were flooded and schools closed nationwide for two days. The Damascus-Beirut road was also forced to shut and rains caused widespread damage to farmland. “Lebanon hasn’t seen a storm like this in a dozen years,” Abdel Karim Damaj, a weather expert at Beirut International Airport, told Yahoo News UK.

Syria’s met office issued travel advisories as heavy rains and wind hammered the country.  In Damascus, snowfall made some roads unusable.

Heavy rain pounded Israel and the Palestinian territories, and Egyptian authorities closed the port of Alexandria for a third day due to power cuts caused by rains and  high winds. Tel Aviv’s main transport artery reopened this after floods caused temporary shut-downs. Trains were also thrown off service. It is reported that two Palestinian women drowned in the West  Bank after their taxi was flooded.

Israeli army helicopters plucked people off rooftops: six people in Taibeh trapped atop their car, and another 15 from a flooded home in Baqa al-Gharbia. West Bank city streets were waterlogged, and the Palestinian Authority ordered schools closed for the rest of this week. Israel’s met office said this winter is tracking to be the wettest in a decade and the worst storm in 20 years.

Sever weather in Middle East

Back in Amman, most tunnels and underpasses are closed due to deep flood waters, aggravating the usual inner city gridlock.  Supersaturated fields and hillsides are contributing to widespread flooding; the city’s drainage system overwhelmed by heavily silt-laden waters.

Jordan’s Meteorological Office predicts abundant precipitation through the weekend.  Weekend temperatures in Amman will reach a high of 8 degrees Celsius dropping down to minus 3.

Amman snowstorm

It’s nightfall now, the wind is howling, thunder is booming and the streets are blanketed in two inches of snow.  The roads are bad, but they’re not as dangerous as the terrible drivers driving on them. Kids are everywhere, ripping snowballs into each other and building dubious snow sculptures.

Snow is expected to continue for the next 24 hours. From the safety and warmth of my apartment, it’s pretty.  Pretty weird.

Images of Amman in this storm from Jordan {Amman}; last image by author

One thought on “Severe Weather Causing Middle East Mayhem and Deaths

  1. JTR

    For many years we had a choice and the technology to safely recycle our growing tons of toxic wastes, and peacefully reduce our billions population. Now Nature recycles the human race with monster storms, multiple tornadoes, glaciers and ice caps melting and flooding on rising seashores, together with continental drought, dry river beds and mass starvation, sending us the way of the dinosaurs.

    Reply

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