Snowstorm Heads Toward Middle East After High Wind, Flood Damage

A heavy storm battering the eastern Mediterranean for four days has caused death and destruction to property and crops as well as power outages in many areas.

Two Palestinian women traveling from Tulkarm to Nablus were found dead as a result of the storm, the Palestinian news agency Wafa said, citing a statement carried by the city council of Anabta. At least 46 people have been injured in 773 road accidents in Jordan in the past two days, the state-run Petra news agency said today.

Jordan’s Central Bank Governor Ziad Fareez ordered banks to start work today at 10 a.m. instead of 8 a.m. because of weather conditions, Petra said.

Several roads in Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan have closed while homes, as well as the Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees in Jordan, were flooded and businesses came to a halt. Power cuts were reported in Jordan and Lebanon.

Israel’s Hadera Paper Ltd. said production at its Hadera site was temporarily stopped because of flooding, according to a filing today to the Tel-Aviv Stock Exchange. The company said it is working to resume production and is studying the impact of the damage.

In Jerusalem, residents braced for possibly as much as 30 centimeters (1 foot) of snow. Jerusalem will close its schools at noon today and the municipality has advised drivers to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary.

“Several roads in the north and center of the country near streams have closed due to flooding, as has the highway along the Dead Sea,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said by phone.

Main Highway

Tel Aviv’s main Ayalon highway remained open today after closing for several hours yesterday due to water overflows. Military helicopters were used yesterday to rescue people stranded on rooftops by flooding in three towns in central Israel, the army said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet today with Minister of Internal Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch and senior police officials to discuss arrangements to deal with the severe weather, his office said in a text message.

Heavy snow fell in Damascus today, according to the state-run SANA news agency, while a sprinkling of snow briefly covered cars and streets in the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Lebanon’s Ghadir River burst its banks, flooding into a nearby Beirut suburb. Lebanese posted pictures on social media of rainwater submerging cars, leading one policeman to move around on a jet ski.

Lebanese Economy Minister Nicolas Nahhas said the damage in the country reflected the government’s failure to deal with the “weak” infrastructure, the official National News Agency said. “The government doesn’t have the necessary capabilities to prevent damage from storms,” he said.

The storm is expected to continue tomorrow, according to forecasts on Petra and NNA.

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