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Jordan braces for snow

By Hana Namrouqa - Jan 08,2013 - Last updated at Jan 08,2013

AMMAN — The Kingdom is expected to be affected on Wednesday by a polar air mass forecast to cause temperatures to dip below zero and bring “accumulating” snow, the Jordan Meteorological Department (JMD) said on Tuesday.

Snow is expected to start falling during the early hours of Wednesday on the northern and southern mountains and in morning hours in the capital, especially areas lying over 800 metres above sea level, according to the JMD. Amman’s elevation ranges between 750 metres above sea level in the east, rising to around 1,100 metres in the west.

On Tuesday, the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) declared a maximum state of alert to deal with weather-related emergencies.

“Our teams are fixing the manholes which were clogged due to the drifting dirt and rocks. Many streets are inundated because the drainage system is unable to handle the huge amounts of rainwater,” head of GAM’s committee Abdul Halim Kilani said in a statement.

By Tuesday evening, several intersections around Amman were witnessing traffic jams due to flooding in tunnels which caused accidents, debris as well as many vehicles to break down.

GAM called on people to contact its operations rooms in cases of emergency on the following numbers: 5359970 or 5359971.

In other governorates, rising water levels also disrupted traffic and normal life. No life-threatening incidents were reported by Tuesday evening.

Storage at the country’s dams rose by an unprecedented 2.5 per cent within a 24-hour period, with over five million cubic metres of water flowing into them by Tuesday morning, according to officials.

Rainfall between Monday and Tuesday mornings raised the dams’ water storage from 17 per cent to 19.5 per cent of their total capacity. 

But pumping from several water sources feeding the capital remained suspended for the second day on Tuesday as heavy rain raised the turbidity levels of water, according to the Jordan Water Company (Miyahuna).

The heavy rain and flooded streets also brought out some of the best of Jordanian humour on social media sites, with citizens frustrated with the traffic taking to Facebook and Twitter to post jokes and fake news headlines.

Others started calling the past three days of foul weather “Hurricane Wadha”, a traditional bedouin name.

The JMD said Wednesday’s temperatures will be 4ºC during the day dropping to 1ºC at night in Amman, while winds will be westerly brisk with gusts at times.

“The snow will cover most of the Kingdom during Wednesday and Thursday and will accumulate,” a JMD weather forecaster, who preferred to remain unnamed, told The Jordan Times.

“Temperatures during Wednesday and Thursday will be eight degrees below their annual average during this time of the year of 12ºC,” the weather forecaster said.

The country will remain under the impact of the polar air mass on Thursday, he added.

“Snow is expected to continue on Thursday, when daytime temperatures will be 4ºC, dipping to a low of -1ºC in the capital at nighttime, while winds will be westerly brisk turning to southwesterly moderate at night.”

The snowfall will gradually stop as of late Thursday, when the impact of the polar air mass starts to abate, he said.

“A slight rise in temperatures is expected on Friday, but we warn people against frost formation and slippery roads, especially in the morning and late at night,” the meteorologist added.

Weather on Friday will be cold and partly cloudy, with temperatures reaching 7ºC during the day and 1ºC at night in Amman and winds will be southwesterly moderate, turning southeasterly during the night.

Wednesday’s air mass will be the third to affect the country this week, according to the JMD, which said that the first air mass affected the country on Friday night and the second on Monday.

Heavy rain on Tuesday left the majority of Amman’s streets waterlogged, while the Public Security Department (PSD) advised people to avoid using tunnels, many of which blocked due to floods.

“The water inundated the lower part of the Ain Ghazal Bridge towards Zarqa, in addition to the 7th Circle tunnel and the area close to Al Ahli Club traffic light near the 8th Circle,” the PSD said in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

Meanwhile, the Civil Defence Department (CDD) in Zarqa and Ruseifa police rescued 19 persons from buses in two different incidents after they were trapped by floodwaters from the overflowing Zarqa River, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

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