Major Snow Storm ‘Yohan’ Batters Lebanon
Tuesday night into Wednesday, with rain, snow and gale-force winds causing massive disruption to the country’s roads and services.
The Meteorological Department at Beirut’s Rafik Hariri International Airport said that the temperature would continue to drop Wednesday, with wind speed reaching up to 100 km/hour.
In a statement released Wednesday, Civil Defense announced that waves reached eight meters high along the coast and that heavy snow fell above 1000 meters in Lebanon’s mountainous regions Tuesday night.
The state-run National News Agency reported that the snow in some areas was colored red because of dust and sand carried with the heavy winds.
Civil Defense urged citizens to exercise caution and restrict their use of transportation, stressing that all members of Lebanon’s Civil Defense were on full alert.
The storm inflicted unprecedented physical damage to the country’s coastal roads, washing away metal barriers and ripping up pavement.
The Internal Security Forces’ Traffic Management Center announced massive traffic disruptions Wednesday stemming from the storm.
The vital Dahr al-Baidar roadway, also known as the Damascus Highway, was closed due to massive snowfall.
The Nahr al-Kalb Highway from Jounieh to Beirut was experiencing heavy traffic jams due to flooding and physical damage from the storm, while the coastal road linking Dbayyeh to Beirut was closed due to damage from crashing waves.
Pictures of Al-Manara coastal road in Ras Beirut showed severe damage caused by waves to the Corniche’s handrails and cobbled sidewalk.
The road linking Beirut to the southern suburb of Ouzai was also damaged due to the storm swell.
TMC also announced that the roads linking Zahle to Tarshishl, Ainata to Cedars, Laqlouq to Aqoura and Kfardebian to Hadath Baalbek were all shut by the snow.
The treacherous driving conditions also caused several traffic accidents around the country.
Three were injured in a car accident on Maarouf Saad Boulevard in the southern city of Sidon, while another was injured in a crash on the eastern side of the Dora highway.
In Beirut, strong winds paralyzed many of the capital’s streets, with traces of the muddy rains brought from North Africa clear on cars.
The capital’s residents also experienced frequent cuts in electricity and internet services.
Strong winds and high waves (seven meters) damaged the machinery at Sidon’s port and forced the closure of the facility.
Imported cars that had been discharged from ships were parked on the quay, although tradesmen were wary that the waves might wash them away or damage them after a bulldozer was dragged into the sea by heavy waves in the southern city’s commercial basin.
The incident sparked alarm from the owners of construction cranes who refused to lift the bulldozer out, fearing that waves would wash away their machinery as well.
Schools in several Metn villages were closed for the day due to the storm.
In Koura, heavy winds uprooted trees and caused power cuts and internet outages.
In Tyre, heavy wind also uprooted trees and hauled off advertisement posters.
The storm caused severe damage to crops and led to power outages in most of the villages and towns in the southern district.
In Tyre’s port, fishermen, fearing that they would be dragged out to sea, had to anchor their boats after waves reached 3 meters high.
In the Bekaa Valley, winds reached 100 km per hour, uprooting trees and hauling off advertisements. Weather conditions also led to power outages and damage to makeshift plastic houses. Areas of the valley also witnessed snow fall.
Meanwhile, a civil defense rescue center stationed in the port of Jounieh was heavily damaged by the storm. Four other boats sank as a result of crashing waves.
Kesrouan’s Qaimaqam Joseph Mansour and head of the fishermen’s syndicate Malek Tayeh inspected the damages inflicted on Jounieh’s port and called on the department of maritime transportation to pay compensation to the fishermen.
Media reports said the telecommunications network in Hasbayya stopped operating due to the storm. The reports added that the weather also caused severe damage to olive trees and other vegetation.
The Airport’s Meteorological Department predicted an insignificant improvement in weather conditions for Thursday. The weather will continue to be cloudy with strong winds but with lower wave heights. There would also be a slight decrease in temperature and in snow fall, which will affect areas 900 meters above sea level.
Courtesy of Albawaba News