First snow in Tunisia’s mountains marks end of drought season

Country recorded its hottest summer since 1950 and officials warned of imminent water scarcity

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The first snow of the year fell on Tunisia’s mountainous Ain Drahem and Ghardimaou areas in the Jendouba governorate in the early hours of Thursday after long months of drought.

With climate change challenges taking their toll, sparking unprecedented heatwaves across the Mediterranean region and Tunisia's hottest summer since 1950 last year, the sight of snow brought a sigh of relief to most Tunisians.

“Beauty at its finest, thank God we finally get to see such images this year,” said Tunisians commenting on pictures circulating across social media, showing snow covering red-roofed houses in the north-western city of Ain Drahem, high in the Khemir mountains on the border with Algeria.

Rain and snow will fall on the north-west over the coming week, starting on Thursday, Tunisia's National Institute of Meteorology said.

A significant drop in temperature has also been recorded, reaching minus 3°C in some areas.

Thick snow on the streets of Ain Drahem and Ghardimaou had not exceeded 2cm late on Thursday, local media reported.

The Jendouba Governorate Regional Committee for Disaster Response had been put into permanent session to address the changing weather.

The committee halted classes in all educational institutions in the region and called on drivers to take caution to avoid collisions.

Snow in Ain Drahem, Jendouba, Tunisia. Photo: Rahil Maddouri

Meanwhile, bulldozers and snow-shovellers removed snow and restored mobility to main roads in Ain Dirham.

Civil protection vehicles were sent to roads leading to Ain Drahem to prepare for emergencies.

Only 110 million cubic metres of rain has fallen in Tunisia since September, about a fifth of the normal rate, and farmers have warned that grain crops would suffer this year as a result.

However, the change of weather on Thursday morning might lift the spirits of those hoping for a better crop season as food shortages led to the country's toughest economic crisis yet.

Updated: January 19, 2023, 5:25 PM