Jesse Ferrell

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Rare Mideast Snow Maps

December 17, 2013; 10:42 AM ET

I've been playing around with the new Model Animator on our Professional site (30-day free trial) this week. In the Middle East, there have recently been some unusually early and potent snowstorms, centered around the Dec. 10-15 period. Although we may never know how much snow fell where, I was able to catch the results of the storm on the Euro model's snow cover charts yesterday:

We said about the snow on Dec. 13: "Thursday brought early-season snow to Jerusalem and parts of the Middle East. Though not unusual, snow events only occur every few years for the region." In a second article written yesterday, we said "Parts of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel were hardest hit with heavy mountain snowfall and flooding rain in the lower elevations. Since the beginning of the storm, temperatures have averaged 6.9 degrees C (12.4 F) below normal in Tel Aviv and 8.8 degrees C (15.8 F) below normal in Jerusalem."

It certainly made for some interesting photos. The Washington Post says in that article: "Arching south from Turkey, the storm blanketed parts of Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian territories as well as Egypt. While parts of the region often see snow in winter, others are dusted perhaps once in a generation; Jerusalem last saw this much snow about 50 years ago and the Egyptian capital of Cairo hadn't seen snow in decades."

NASA uploaded a satellite image of the snow after the storm on Dec. 15 and said in an article: "Snow storms in the Middle East are not frequent but not uncommon either. However, this one was unusually early in the winter and more intense than normal. The storm paralyzed Jerusalem with 30 to 50 centimeters (12 to 20 inches) of snow, knocking out power for roughly 15,000 households. The snow closed mountain roads leading into the city, effectively cutting Jerusalem off. Amman, Jordan, received about 45 cm (18 inches) of snow, and Lebanon and Syria also were unusually cold and snowy."

Weather historian Chris Burt says: "Media reports claim the snow on the outskirts of Cairo was "the first in 112 years" and that in Jerusalem "worst in decades" although both these statements are exaggerations and no sleet or snow fell in the Cairo area. In any case, it is unusually early in the winter to see such cold and snowfall at these locations (or hail near Cairo). Meanwhile, on the cold side of the ridge snow fell at low elevations in Egypt (Sinai), Israel, and Jordan among other Middle East nations. Hail fell in Cairo's eastern suburb of Madinaty [on December 13th]; a photograph making the rounds on social media [falsely] purported [to show] snow or sleet there."

And don't believe the snowy Pyramids or Sphinx photos; WafflesAtNoon (a hoax slaying website) says they were fakes: "Although snow did fall in Egypt, the Mirror reported that 'the wintry weather wasn't enough to cover Egypt's most famous monuments, the Pyramids or the Sphinx.'"

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About This Blog

Jesse Ferrell
Jesse Ferrell's WeatherMatrix blog covers extreme weather worldwide with a concentration on weather photos and Social Media.