Snow Covers Holy Sites in Jerusalem, West Bank Adds to Refugee Misery

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AMMAN: Jerusalem and the eastern Mediterranean were blanketed in snow on Thursday after a winter storm battered the region.

And in neighboring Jordan, heavy snowfall has closed roads in Amman and made driving conditions hazardous across much of the country.

The Jordanian Meteorological Service predicts more snow on higher ground and temperatures are expected to fall below zero again.

Jordanians woke up on Thursday to a thick blanket of snow covering homes and driveways. On Wednesday evening, the region was affected by a depression coming from Greece and Turkey towards the eastern basin of the Mediterranean which coincided with a polar wave which hit Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and parts Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Iraq. .

In Syria, days of heavy snowfall blanketed camps housing displaced people in the northwest of the country, forcing families to huddle together under canvases in freezing conditions.

Abu Hussan, who lives with his family in a makeshift camp outside the town of Jisr Al-Shughur, told AFP: “We have been trapped in the snow for four days.”

The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said at least 227 displacement sites across the northwest had been affected by harsh winter conditions since January 18.

The agency added that 545 tents were destroyed and 9,125 tents damaged by snowfall, floods and high winds, along with the property of displaced people.

Schools in Jerusalem and northern Israel have been closed, leaving children free to play in the snow. The Israel Meteorological Service reported that up to 25 centimeters of snow fell Wednesday evening. It took until noon for snow plows to reopen the main highways leading to Jerusalem from the north, south and west.

Amman and northern and southern regions were blanketed in several centimeters of snow on Thursday, with authorities urging the public to stay home and avoid the roads amid warnings of further falls over the next 24 hours.

While Jordanian farmers complained of frost devastating their crops with freezing weather conditions that prevailed days before the polar low, recent rains have increased depleted water levels at major dams in Jordan.

Jordan’s Water Ministry said on Thursday that recent downpours had brought the overall rainfall volume for the season to 45% of Jordan’s long-term annual average of 8.1 billion cubic meters.

A total of 2.4 million cubic meters of water had flowed into Jordan’s 10 main dams on Thursday morning, bringing their storage capacity to 98.5 million cubic meters, or 29.3% of their total capacity of 336.4 million cubic meters, according to a press release from the ministry.

Meanwhile, Jordan’s National Center for Security and Crisis Management warned on Thursday that the Waleh dam in Madaba governorate, which was empty in November last year, is likely to reach full capacity in the next few months. 24 hours. Center officials, who are monitoring the current snow situation, added that the dam was only 2 million cubic meters away from reaching its full capacity of 9 million cubic meters.

Jordan recently warned of a projected water deficit of 45 million cubic meters in 2022.

On November 22, the country signed a declaration of intent with Israel and the United Arab Emirates to explore the feasibility of a joint power-for-water project.

Defending the deal, Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh warned of “unprecedented” levels of water scarcity, adding that resource-poor Jordan would receive 200 million cubic meters of water a year under the proposed project.

Addressing the lower house on December 15, the prime minister said Jordan’s annual water resources were less than 80 cubic meters per person, below the international threshold of 500 cubic meters per person.

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