A rare snowstorm has swept through the Middle East this week, starting in Turkey and moving south across Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories and now even Egypt. It's the most snow that Jerusalem has seen in 50 years (over a foot!) and the first to hit Cairo in so long that no one is sure the last time it snowed there. There are some great photos of the storm here.

NASA's Earth Observatory has posted a photo of the storm taken from space. It was taken Dec. 15, after the storm had passed and the skies had cleared; the white areas on the land are snow, not clouds. It's quite something to see the snow across Lebanon, Syria and Israel:

Here's a wider view of the region, showing Egypt on the bottom-left (the green patch is the Nile river flood plains, just north of Cairo). That's Saudi Arabia in the bottom right; I haven't seen photos of snow there but there certainly appears to be from this satellite image:

The NASA Earth Observatory says that if you look closely you can see "plumes of sediment" created by flooding along the Mediterranean coast, especially around Gaza:

Lower elevations near the coast received torrential rain during the storm, resulting in flooding. Some 40,000 people were forced to evacuate flooded areas in Gaza, reported the Associated Press. The floods are not visible at this scale, but tan and green plumes of sediment are visible in the Mediterranean Sea along the coast. Such plumes can be caused by floods and run off, though stormy, turbid waters may also bring sediment to the surface.