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‘Dragon’ storm sweeps in, authorities declare maximum alert around nation

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas , Petra - Mar 12,2020 - Last updated at Mar 12,2020

Pedestrians are met with dusty conditions in Amman on Thursday (Photo by Osama Aqarbeh)

AMMAN — As the cold front dubbed “the dragon” began impacting the Kingdom on Thursday, authorities issued several warnings to citizens to take the necessary precautions and stay safe. 

On Thursday morning, the Jordan Meteorological Department (JMD) shared a video sent in by a citizen in Sheideieh, Maan Governorate, which showed the sandstorm covering vehicles and buildings. 

Another video published showed brisk winds uprooting a tree in Petra and falling down onto the road. 

By noon, the sandstorm reached Amman and Zarqa as winds became brisker and the weather dusty with low visibility all over the capital, while in the south, specifically in Maan, dust filled the sky, resulting in low visibility, according to videos circulated on the JMD’s official page. 

Later during the day, announced that “the dragon” went from a third- to a fourth-degree cold front, causing the Jordan Maritime Commission to stop maritime movements in Aqaba’s waters. 

Rainfall in the afternoon reduced the dust in the central and southern regions of the Kingdom that led to traffic jams around the capital as employees headed home from work.

The JMD reissued weekend warnings of powerful gusts, low to zero visibility due to sandstorms especially prior to rainfall and thunderstorms at night. 

The Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) announced a maximum state of alert, urging the public to stay updated with the official weather forecasts and advising merchants to avoid storing their wares underground in a manner that could cause damage.

The municipality also urged the public to keep the streets clean in order to keep from blocking manholes, to avoid low-lying areas where torrents and flash floods could form and to tie down any objects that could fly off rooftops due to speedy gusts, which could reach a speed of 110 kilometres per hour according to

Citizens who face any emergencies can contact GAM's main operations room at 065359970 or 065359971 or its mobile line at 0798166789. 

The Highway Patrol Department also circulated several warnings to drivers prior to the start of the weather conditions, urging them to keep a safe distance from other vehicles and ensure the front lights of their automobiles are working properly. 

The Public Security Department announced that all roads in the Kingdom are open, but require extreme caution while driving, except for the Amman-Mafraq Rweished Road due to thick dust and Wadi Al Qamar road in Ruseifa, which was closed for precautionary reasons. 

The department urged the public to stay at home unless in case of emergency and to call 911 to inquire about the road conditions. 

The Education Ministry also suspended classes for schools in Maan, the southern Badia and several parts of Aqaba in light of the weather conditions, while presidents of various universities suspended afternoon lectures, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported. 

The Petra Development and Tourism Region Authority (PDTRA) also announced a maximum state of alert, implementing its emergency plan to deal with the forecast weather conditions and deploying its cadres and vehicles in coordination with the authorities in Petra.

PDTRA Deputy Chief Commissioner and Commissioner of Infrastructure Abdulmonem Abu Hilaleh said in a statement that the authority will deal with tourism movements in the city according to the weather updates, noting that the public can call 0795108882 or 0788434563 in case of emergency. 

PDTRA decided to postpone the time of entry for visitors to the Petra Archaeological Reserve on Friday to 8am in light of the weather conditions. 

The Jordanian Electric Power Company also announced a maximum state of alert on Thursday at noon to continue through Saturday, in order to deal with the weather conditions. 

The company urged the public to avoid areas with electric wires as the brisk winds could impact them and cause malfunctions, noting that people can contact 064966000 in case of emergency. 

The director general of the National Electric Power Company on Thursday noted that the company’s technical cadres are “ready” to respond to any malfunctions that could arise during the cold front.

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