Friday, December 29, 2006

Country reels in wake severe snowstorm

Country reels in wake severe snowstorm
Weather experts predict more bad weather over weekend

By Mohammed Zaatari and Maher Zeineddine
Daily Star correspondent

SIDON/CHOUF: The severe storm that struck Lebanon on Wednesday inflicted heavy damages, as a number of roads were blocked, areas flooded, and landslides occurred, due to the heavy snowfall and torrential rain. Although Thursday brought some sunshine and warm conditions, weather experts are predicting that another hailstorm will hit Lebanon by Saturday afternoon. Sources from the Civil Aviation Department at the Rafik Hariri International Airport told The Daily Star that Lebanon will not witness anything similar to the storm it saw over the past few days. One of the source added that the freezing air currents that hit Lebanon will not reoccur, as temperatures will be on the rise starting Friday morning.

"The storm [which is predicted to hit Lebanon on Saturday] will not be as severe as that of Wednesday; it will be like any normal storm Lebanon has long witnessed during the winter season," the Aviation Department said. The Aviation Department also said that the storm will not last for more than 24 hours, and snow will only fall at an altitude of 1,300 to 1,400 meters.

In the mountainous Chouf area, black ice forced many people to stay at home on Wednesday. Traffic was completely paralyzed, due to landslides caused by heavy rain. By Thursday morning the ice on the roads began to melt. But the Maaser-al-Chouf Kefraya road is still completely blocked, after the level of snow reached 30 centimeters. Bulldozers from the Civil Defense and the Lebanese Army worked around the clock to make the Dahr al-Baidar accessible to motorists. The town of Jezzine in South Lebanon is still covered in a thick coat of white snow, causing the Jezzine- Western Bekaa road to remain closed. Many of Jezzine residents stayed at home on Wednesday.

In the coming days, temperatures in Lebanon are expected to vary between 5 and 13 degrees Celsius along the coast, between -3 and 5 degrees in the mountains, and between -3 and 5 in the Bekaa Valley. Weather forecasts also predict that northwesterly winds will blow at speeds varying between 10 and 30 kilometers per hour, with poor visibility in the highlands.

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