Storm Joyce batters Lebanon and the eastern Mediterranean – in pictures

Strong winds, rain and hail fell down on Lebanon and there was snow in Damascus as Storm Joyce carved across the Eastern Mediterranean

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Snow blanketed parts of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel on Wednesday, blocking roads, disrupting traffic and postponing Covid-19 vaccinations

Even exams at some universities were halted.

Large parts of Syria were covered, including the capital Damascus that is witnessing this winter's first snowfall. Snow was as high as 15cm in the mountains of Sweida province, according to the official state news agency Sana.

Roads in some provinces were blocked. In the central province of Hama, bulldozers shovelled snow from open roads while vehicles skidded on ice, further causing traffic disruption.

The University of Damascus called off midterm exams scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday at all its branches around Syria because of the extreme weather. The country’s ports remained open.

In the opposition-held northwestern Syria, civil defence teams had been building dirt mounds since Tuesday around displaced persons’ camps to prevent the rain from flooding the crowded areas. About three million displaced people live in northwestern Syria, mostly in tents and temporary shelters. Heavy rainfall last month damaged over 190 displacement sites, destroying and damaging over 10,000 tents.

In neighbouring Lebanon, Storm Joyce hit late on Tuesday with gale force winds registering between 85kph and 100kph. The storm was expected to get stronger on Thursday.

Storm Joyce hits Lebanon

Storm Joyce hits Lebanon

Breaking a warm spell, the storm brought heavy rainfall, a sharp drop in temperatures and the heaviest snowfall in Lebanon this year. Snow was expected to cover areas of altitudes as low as 400 metres high, according to the meteorological department. Nearly a dozen roads in eastern and northern Lebanon were closed to traffic because of the snow.

The Israeli Meteorological Service forecast heavy thunderstorms and cold temperatures across much of the country, with snowfall at higher altitudes expected later on Wednesday, including in Jerusalem. Heavy snowfall covered the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the border with Syria.

In Jordan, the Covid-19 vaccination drive was suspended due to severe weather conditions. Schools and universities also put off classes.

Osama Al Tarifi, director of the operating room of the Arabia Weather site, said snow had reached 20cm in the mountains of Ajloun in northern Jordan, where snowfall has been non-stop since Tuesday night. Heavy snow was expected in the capital, Amman, on Wednesday.

Winds exceeded 100kph in some areas in Jordan.

In Libya, snow blanketed the country’s northeast mountains as snowfall continued since Tuesday, covering forests and roads in some areas in the North African country.

Residents of the Jabal Al Akhdar area in the far northeast part of Libya took their children out for fun, some making snowmen and others starting snowball fights.

“I was surprised, actually, by the number of families who came here to take pictures to remember the snow,” said Ali Al Shairi, an amateur photographer from the eastern city of Bayda, which is known for recurrent snow in Libya but has not seen any for a couple of years.

In neighbouring Egypt, heavy rain and windy weather prevailed on Wednesday. The conditions were expected to last into Thursday, the country's meteorological agency said. Authorities in South Sinai province, which includes tourist hubs, cancelled activities, including safaris and cruises to weather the storm.

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