Snow Hits Areas 400 Meters Above Sea Level, Schools to Close for a 2nd Dayإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Storm Zina brought snow to areas that are located only 400 meters above sea level, as it continued to batter Lebanon for a second day on Wednesday.
The ferocity of the storm prompted Education Minister Elias Bou Saab to order the closure of all public, private and vocational schools on Thursday. The minister urged all institutions to abide by the decision.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Wael Abou Faour ordered the closure of nurseries on Thursday after they were also closed on Wednesday.
Snow started falling on towns near the Lebanese coast in the afternoon, reaching areas located 350-400 meters above sea level, such as Mazboud, al-Mghayriyeh, Ketermaya, Barja and Joun, as a wave of cold and frost engulfed the region.
Snow also covered most towns in the southern region of Marjeyoun starting 600 meters above sea level. Thickness reached around 10 centimeters in Jdeidet Marjeyoun but the road remained passable.
In Mount Lebanon, the storm cut off most of the mountainous roads in the Chouf region, with snow reaching areas 800 meters above sea level.
All activity ground to a halt in the northern region of Bsharri, amid a closure of schools, institutions and shops and a power outage that had started on Monday.
The nearby region of Zgharta meanwhile witnessed heavy hail, violent winds and intense rain.
The rain caused a rise in the water level of River Rashiin, whose color turned into dark brown due to flashfloods and mud.
Also in the north, overflowing water from the stream of the Azqi town invaded olive and citrus groves in the Dinniyeh region.
At the governmental level, Prime Minister Tammam Salam presided over an extraordinary meeting for the so-called National Committee for Confronting Disasters and Crises.
The premier gave directions to the committee and all ministries and administrations to “mobilize all their departments and call in employees to their work locations, or the nearest center they can reach, to maintain normal operations, especially at vital facilities.”
Salam also stressed the need to “take care of the Syrian refugee encampments and provide them with the necessary help to confront the storm's damage and repercussions.”
The storm battered coastal towns as major roads leading to the mountains were covered with layers of snow, leaving some vehicles stranded.
As temperatures began to drop, people flooded supermarkets, stocking up on food.
Weather forecasts said that the storm would last until Thursday and temperatures would plunge to a new low over the weekend.
Several roads were closed by the Internal Security Forces on Wednesday as others remained open for SUVs and cars equipped with snow chains.
The state-run National News Agency reported that snow covered for the first time As Safira area in Dinniyeh as hail fall continued until Wednesday morning.
All schools closed across the country, at the instructions of Minister Bou Saab.
The Civil Defense advised citizens not to take mountainous roads except in cases of emergencies.
The director general of the Civil Defense Department, Brig. Gen. Raymond Khattar, said that several cars were pulled in the north, Mount Lebanon and the south, warning of choking cases due to home heating.
Red Cross Operations Director George Kettaneh revealed that several rescue operations were carried out across Lebanon.
Public Works Ministry bulldozers also worked on reopening roads covered with snow.
Wind and rain caused delays at Beirut's airport Tuesday night and the country's ports had been closed as winds of up to 110 km/hr caused waves more than 5 meters high.
Media reports said that around 30 sheep were killed Wednesday when a thunderstorm hit a farm in Zgharta.
A Syrian man and a six-year-old boy died in the cold in the southern region of Shebaa.
"We have transported the bodies of two Syrians, a man and a six-year-old boy, who were found dead in Ain al-Joz in the mountains of Shebaa," a Red Cross source told Agence France Presse.
State-run National News Agency reported a third person had died in the mountains apparently of exposure, but there was no immediate confirmation as a Red Cross source said heavy snow was hampering search operations.
A security source said the dead were Syrian refugees and had been crossing the mountainous border between Syria and Lebanon in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
The cold weather also caused the death of 15,000 chickens in two farms owned by Walid Qassem in the town of Amar al-Beykat, NNA reported.