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Snow blankets Amman, hilly areas across Jordan

By Omar Obeidat - Jan 09,2013 - Last updated at Jan 09,2013

AMMAN – Snowfall early Wednesday blanketed several hilly areas in the Kingdom, especially areas lying over 800 metres above sea level, which include most of Amman.

According to the Jordan Meteorological Department (JMD), the polar air mass is forecast to continue affecting the Kingdom on Thursday as more snow and heavy rain is expected to fall over most of the country, with temperatures dipping below zero.

The depression is expected to ease as of Friday afternoon, the JMD said.

According to the Public Security Department (PSD) media office, snow fell on most parts of the capital on Wednesday. The northern governorate of Ajloun also saw heavy snowfall.

Several roads across the Kingdom were closed on Wednesday because of snow and heavy rain, the PSD reported.

The Queen Alia International Airport road was open, but motorists were advised to use caution because of heavy snow.

In Amman, the Eskafi, Waha, Ezhour and Jubilee tunnels, and the Ain Ghazal overpass were closed, as of 2:00pm, the PSD said.

In the north, the Ebein road in Ajloun, which leads to the police station, was closed, while other roads were open but caution was advised because snow was continuing to fall.
In Irbid, El Hassan Sports City tunnel, as well as the Juhfieh, Deir Yousef, Anba, Petra, Irhab roads, in addition to streets in the Alia neighbourhood, were closed due to the heavy rain.
The northern Mazar road that leads to Ajloun was closed because of snow, while all streets in Jerash were open except the Kufur Khal road, which was blocked by heavy snow.

In Mafraq, all roads were open except Buweidah road, which leads to Irbid.
In Ramtha, all were open except the Hellaneh overpass, which was closed because of heavy rain.
In Balqa Governorate, all roads were navigable with difficulty. Motorists were advised to drive carefully.
In Madaba, Zarqa and Ruseifa, roads were open except the Pepsi overpass on the highway that leads to Marka in east Amman.
In Karak, roads were navigable with difficulty, except Al Muwjeb upper road, which was closed because of landslides. The Mutah and Al Mazar roads were operative with difficulty because of snow. In Tafileh, roads were open but caution was advised.
In the south, the Bseira-Qadisieh and Sharifeh-Grandel roads were closed.

The cement road towards Husseiniyeh was usable with difficulty due to snow.

Also, all roads leading to Petra were closed because of snow while the inner roads remained open.
Snowfall in Maan caused traffic disruptions on the road leading to Ras Al Naqab, the Neimat villages and Shobak.
Due to the prevailing weather conditions, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour issued instructions that most ministries and government departments will be off on Thursday, except for some ministries and departments whose services are vital during the current conditions, including the ministries of interior, health, public works, municipalities and water.
According to the communiqué, carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, the Greater Amman Municipality will be working.
Demand for fuel products on Wednesday was average as households stocked up on their energy needs ahead of the snowstorm that hit Amman and hilly areas early in the morning, according to the Gas Stations Owners Association.
GSOA President Fayed Al Fayez said 171,000 gas cylinders, used mainly for heating purposes, were dispensed to distribution agencies across the Kingdom on Wednesday, adding that gas stations ordered 8,750 tonnes of oil derivatives.
However, bakeries in Amman were swamped with consumers stocking up on bread for the snowstorm, despite calls from suppliers on customers to buy only what they need.

Bakery Owners Association President Abdul Ilah Hamawi told The Jordan Times over the phone that long queues of customers purchasing large quantities of bread had caused chaos at bakeries, which he said were staying open 24 hours a day to meet the rising demand, which has more than doubled.
Heavy rain over the past two days led to the flooding of 25 houses in Madaba, according to the Civil Defence Department, which indicated that its cadres have rescued 126 people in Zarqa who were stranded by heavy rain.

Around 773 traffic accidents took place across the Kingdom in the past two days resulting in 48 injuries.

Ensour, accompanied by his deputy and Minister of Interior Awad Khleifat, paid inspection visits to the departments of civil defence, public security and Gendarmerie and the Amman Emergency Centre and checked on their readiness and the preparations they have taken to deal with the weather conditions.
Ensour stressed the importance of maintaining cooperation and coordination between the concerned agencies to provide the necessary services to citizens, adding that, despite the difficult weather conditions, no single death was recorded, Petra reported.

The premier also called on citizens to abide by instructions of the concerned agencies in cases of floods.
Civil Defence Department Director General Lt. Gen. Talal Kofahi gave a briefing during the visit, indicating that the department dealt with 1,087 incidents during that past two days that varied between evacuation, pumping out of flood water and transferring patients to hospitals.

Kofahi added that department personnel have also evacuated tens of Syrians from the Zaatari Refugee Camp where water flooded hundreds of tents.
In addition, Public Security Department Director General Gen. Hussein Majali said traffic police have dealt with dozens of accidents during the past two days that caused “slight injuries”.


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