Rare storms hit Egypt, closing schools and roads nationwide

Thunderstorms, lightning and heavy rainfall flood streets in more than 10 Egyptian provinces

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Schools in Egypt’s capital Cairo and across much of the north of the country were closed on Sunday as a precaution against bad weather, authorities said.

The closures followed a thunderstorm and heavy rainfall on Saturday night across most of northern Egypt, accompanied by a sudden drop in temperature.

The rainfall flooded several major thoroughfares and tunnels in parts of Cairo, creating kilometres-long traffic jams in some areas.

Some of the capital's roads were also closed by the police for safety while the temperature is expected to drop to about 12°C on Sunday night. The cold spell is expected to end on Monday.

But other parts of the country were hit much harder by the wave of bad weather than the capital.

In Alexandria, two sewage workers lost their lives on Saturday during efforts to clear the rainwater, which flooded much of the city's streets, according to a statement from the ministry of local development.

Government offices in Alexandria were closed on Sunday, with employees asked to stay home for their safety after the country's meteorological authority said that the weather in the city would continue being unstable for another two days.

A warning from Alexandria's governor on Saturday asked citizens to take care and not park their cars or stand by any trees, lampposts or billboards, which he says are at a high risk of falling and injuring people in the bad weather.

South-east of Alexandria, in the Nile delta province of Beheira – one of the country's most arable areas – roads were also closed and vacuum tankers were seen in a number of photos posted on social media over the weekend. The tankers were clearing the streets of pools of floodwater, which have impeded traffic in the province for several days.

In the Mediterranean province of Marsa Matrouh, on Egypt’s western border with Libya, a cemetery was flooded by the storm, resulting in authorities having to move in equipment to clear the water and reposition some of the remains of people buried there, which were dislodged by the floods.

On Friday, main roads in the city of Al Arish, the largest in the country's North Sinai province, were also closed after heavy rainfall flooded large parts of the city. City-wide warnings urged residents to stay home and vacate the streets. The floods brought down a number of lampposts across the city and in one incident, a horse was electrocuted, according to a local news report on Friday.

Al Arish residents launched an initiative to insulate the city's electricity poles to prevent short circuits. There were also reports of power cuts across the city over the weekend.

The extreme weather comes on the heels of an unseasonable storm that hit the Upper Egyptian province of Aswan last week, which, in a strange turn of events, washed hundreds of scorpions into the city's centre from their nearby desert habitats. Hundreds of the city's locals were admitted to hospitals to be treated for scorpion stings.

A health ministry statement at the time confirmed that three people had died in last week's torrential storm in Aswan.

Al Arish's schools have been closed since Saturday and are expected to remain closed until the weather clears.

Updated: November 21, 2021, 11:15 AM