Biblical snowstorm: Rare flakes in Cairo, Jerusalem paralyzed by over a foot


Vehicles are see stranded in the snow in Jerusalem on December 13, 2013. AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI

A powerful, slow-moving storm is producing historic snows in the Middle East – from Jerusalem to parts of Cairo.

From all accounts, snow in Cairo is exceptionally rare – although historical records are difficult to attain.

Some reports suggest it’s the first snow in Cairo in over 100 years – although they are not substantiated.

New York Magazine offers this intelligence:

Claims that this is Cairo’s first snowfall in exactly 112 years  seem to be sourced from a tweet by one local man who later admitted he was just guesstimating. Whatever the exact number is, though, the point is that it basically never snows in Cairo.

The Weather Channel notes even rain isn’t all that common in Cairo, which averages less than an inch a year.

The storm has generated crippling amounts of snow in Jerusalem, stranding commuters, cutting power in areas, and closing schools and businesses. A foot to a foot and half of snow has fallen across the city.

The Jerusalem Post reports dozens of cars trapped on roads leading into the city and within its confines and that the Israeli Defense Forces have been called in to assist. It adds Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat said the city was facing “a battle against a rare storm, the likes of which we have never seen.”


Snow piles up on the streets of Jerusalem (Jonathan Hoffman)

“There are no words to describe the situation here,” said Jonathan Hoffman, a Jerusalem resident, posting on a weather hobbyist forum early this morning local time. “The heavy snow never stopped falling and is still coming down. The city: shut down, immobilized.”

Meteorologist Justin Consor, who lives in Israel, said the snow that fell Thursday in Jerusalem was the most in over 100 years in December.

Link: Unofficial list of Jerusalem snowfall records

And the storm isn’t over. Another round of heavy snow is possible Friday night into Saturday. The Jerusalem Post says the incoming round is “triple the size of the last day’s.” If that’s the case, this snowstorm could become the greatest on record in Jerusalem.

Snows of more than 6 inches occur in Jerusalem about every 5 to 7 years, whereas about 2 out of every 3 years see at least some snow, Consor said.

Jason is currently the Washington Post’s weather editor. A native Washingtonian, Jason has been a weather enthusiast since age 10.
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Jason Samenow · December 13, 2013

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