Hail and snow cause chaos in Cairo

Streets of the Egyptian capital were flooded, creating gigantic traffic jams

Egyptian municipal workers try to clear a street in the capital following heavy rainfall. EPA
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A spell of unstable weather, including rare snowfall and hail, lashed Egypt’s capital Cairo late on Tuesday night, wreaking havoc in the city of more than 20 million.

Heavy rainfall accompanied by thunder and lightning flooded the streets of Cairo, causing traffic jams that lasted until the small hours of Wednesday across much of the sprawling metropolis. Many cars broke down because of the flooded streets, further slowing traffic, residents said.

A Cairo street after the heavy rainfall. Reuters

Faced with the long traffic delays, many Cairenes who normally use public transport just walked home on Tuesday night.

For motorists, the commute from the city to the western and eastern suburbs which normally takes 45 minutes took four hours on Tuesday night.

Many took to social media to air their frustration, sharing stories about how bad the traffic was and offering advice to fellow motorists on how to kill time while stuck in their cars.

“I looked at Goggle maps and it told me it will take me six hours to get home in Zamalek,” a 24-year-old artist who owns a handicrafts shop in the upscale Sheikh Zayed Suburb west of Cairo told The National. “I ended up sleeping over at a cousin's house in Sheikh Zayed rather than drive home.”

Another commuter, 44-year-old mother of two Chahira, said it took her over four hours to drive home from work in the southern suburb of Maadi to Sheikh Zayed.

“I listened to a French language lesson on Sound Cloud and I watched a lot of TikToks on my phone,” she said.

“It was a pool ride with work colleagues. We were literally immobile for most of the four hours and 15 minutes,” she told The National.

Traffic moved even more slowly in the eastern side of the city, where the streets of its new suburbs are more easily flooded, according to residents.

A female motorist called a radio programme late on Tuesday night to say she and a friend were cruising the streets of Cairo's eastern suburbs in her SUV looking to help motorists whose cars had broken down amid the traffic chaos.

Cairo does not have a drainage system to deal with rainfall. Previous governments have said the high cost of building one cannot be justified given the city’s normally mild winters.

Updated: October 26, 2022, 12:26 PM