AMMAN: Jerusalem and the eastern Mediterranean were on Thursday left carpeted in snow after a winter storm hit the region.
And in neighboring Jordan, heavy snowfall closed roads in Amman and made driving conditions treacherous throughout much of the country.
Jordan’s Meteorological Department forecast more snow on higher ground with temperatures again expected to fall below freezing.
Jordanians woke up on Thursday to a thick layer of snow covering homes and driveways. On Wednesday night, the region was affected by a depression coming from Greece and Turkey toward the eastern basin of the Mediterranean that coincided with a polar wave that hit Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and some parts of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iraq.
In Syria, days of heavy snowfall blanketed camps housing displaced people in the country’s northwest, forcing families to huddle together under canvas in freezing conditions.
Abu Hussan, who lives with his family in a makeshift camp outside the city of Jisr Al-Shughur, told AFP: “We’ve been trapped in the snow for four days.”
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said that at least 227 displacement sites throughout the northwest had been hit by severe winter weather since Jan. 18.
The agency added that 545 tents had been reported destroyed and 9,125 tents damaged by snowfall, floods, and high winds, along with the belongings of displaced people.
Schools in Jerusalem and northern Israel were closed, leaving children free to play in the snow. Israel’s meteorological service reported that up to 25 centimeters of snow had fallen on Wednesday night. It took until midday for snow ploughs to reopen the main highways leading into Jerusalem from the north, south, and west.
Amman, and northern and southern regions were covered in several inches of snow on Thursday, with authorities urging the public to stay at home and keep off roads amid warnings of more falls over the next 24 hours.
While Jordanian farmers have been complaining of frost devastating their crops with freezing weather conditions prevailing some days before the polar depression, recent rain has increased depleted water levels in Jordan’s major dams.
The Jordanian Water Ministry said on Thursday said that recent deluges had raised overall rainfall volumes for the season to 45 percent of Jordan’s long-term annual average of 8.1 billion cubic meters.
A total of 2.4 million cubic meters of water had poured into Jordan’s 10 major dams by Thursday morning, raising their storage to 98.5 mcm, 29.3 percent of their total capacity of 336.4 mcm, said a ministry statement.
Meanwhile, the Jordanian National Center for Security and Crisis Management warned on Thursday that the Waleh Dam in Madaba governorate, which was empty in November last year, would likely reach full capacity over the next 24 hours. Center officials, who are monitoring the current snow situation, added that the dam was only 2 mcm off hitting its full capacity of 9 mcm.
Jordan recently warned of an expected water deficit of 45 mcm in 2022.
On Nov. 22, the country signed a declaration of intent with Israel and the UAE to explore the feasibility of a joint energy-for-water project.
Defending the deal, Jordan’s Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh warned of “unprecedented” levels of water scarcity, adding that resource-poor Jordan would receive 200 mcm of water a year under the proposed project.
Addressing the lower house on Dec. 15, the PM said that Jordan’s annual water resources were less than 80 cubic meters per person, below the international threshold of 500 cubic meters per person.