Heavy snow traps hundreds of Omanis in mountain villages

The snowfall, the highest in a decade, blocked roads and cut off power, as farmers said the sub zero temperatures ruined thousands of rials worth of fruit crops.
Many were stranded after the highest snowfall in a decade blocked roads. Photos courtesy Ahmed Al Ghuraibi and Suhad Al Shukairi
Many were stranded after the highest snowfall in a decade blocked roads. Photos courtesy Ahmed Al Ghuraibi and Suhad Al Shukairi

MUSCAT // Hundreds of residents in northern Oman have been stranded in their homes with the highest snowfall in a decade blocking roads and cutting off power.

Farmers in the mountainous villages said the sub zero temperatures have ruined thousands of rials worth of fruit crops.

Jebel Shams, Oman’s highest mountain, and adjoining towns such as Saiq, Wadi Ghool, Al Khitaym and about 20 other villages were left covered with snow by the shamal that swept across Gulf countries on Thursday and Friday. The weather system also brought gale-force winds and temperatures of -2°C in the Hajar mountains.

Oman’s meteorology office said they were the coldest February temperatures since 2008.

“The snow started to fall like crazy since Thursday,” said Ahmed Al Ghuraibi, a resident of Wadi Ghool.

“I could not go to work because the road was completely blocked. The roof of my house is half covered with snow. When I woke up this morning, I found seven of my chickens and a goat were frozen to death.”

Some houses in the worst hit areas were still without electricity or water supply on Saturday night because of damaged cables and frozen pipes.

“We still don’t have electricity since Thursday night,” said Suhad Al Shukairi, a resident in Saiq. “We have to get water delivered to us by tankers but it takes hours because the roads are full of snow. We have a little snow at this time of the year but this time is terrible.”

Farmers too were hit hard in Jabal Shams. Because of the mild climate, the area is famous for growing soft fruits such as apricots, plums and strawberries, which cannot grow elsewhere in Oman.

But on Saturday much of the unripened crop had fallen to the ground.

“Hours of snow falling have pushed the fruits to the ground before their picking time,” said Hamed Al Subhi, a farmer in Jabal Shams.

“Normally, the harvest time is in the middle of March. Also, our lettuce, carrots, water melons and tomatoes are ruined due to the freezing weather.”

foreign.desk@thenational.ae

Published: February 4, 2017 04:00 AM

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