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Expected blizzard prompts gov’t to declare Thursday public holiday

By JT - Feb 18,2015 - Last updated at Feb 18,2015

AMMAN — Ministries and government departments will observe a public holiday on Thursday due to the prevailing weather conditions, according to a communiqué issued by Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Meanwhile, authorities were on full alert Wednesday to deal with the expected harsh weather, issuing lists of precautionary measures to ensure people’s safety and well-being, while demand on foodstuff and other items was on the rise ahead of the blizzard.

The public holiday decision was made according to the latest updates on the weather forecast issued by the Jordan Meteorological Department, and to maintain citizens’ safety.

Earlier in the day, the Cabinet decided that government office hours were to close by 12 noon on Thursday in anticipation of a snowstorm which is expected to start affecting the country later in the day. 

The decision was issued during a Cabinet meeting Wednesday morning which tackled measures to be taken in preparation for the snowstorm, before Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour issued a statement announcing the day-off. 

A depression accompanied by a polar front is expected to bring rain and snow to hilly areas in the Kingdom as of Thursday. 

According to meteorologists, the effect of the polar front is expected to last until Saturday.

The Civil Defence Department (CDD) on Wednesday urged the public to take precautionary measures.

The CDD called on people to stock up on fuel and food ahead of the expected blizzard to avoid venturing out during the inclement weather, to keep children indoors and to secure objects that might be blown away by strong winds.

Advising motorists to stay off the roads during the blizzard, the department urged road users to carry out maintenance on their vehicles, replace worn out windshield wipers and exercise extreme caution while driving.

For its part, the Interior Ministry on Wednesday said precautionary instructions on motorists’ mobility during the expected snowstorm will depend on how severe the blizzard is.

“We have not taken any decision yet,” Interior Ministry Spokesperson Ziad Zu'bi said, adding that “instructions will depend on the severity of the weather conditions”.

Meanwhile, sector leaders on Wednesday said bakeries and supermarkets were witnessing a “remarkable” increase in demand on food items, which picked up Wednesday afternoon, according to Raed Hamadah, representative of the food sector at the Jordan Chamber of Commerce, who estimated the rise in demand at “35 per cent so far”.

“We expect it to reach up to 60 per cent in the next few hours,” he told The Jordan Times. 

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