Major storm hits Mideast countries

Dec. 11, 2013 at 6:43 AM
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JERUSALEM, Dec. 11 (UPI) -- Heavy rain, strong winds, flooding and snow swept across the Middle East Wednesday in the first major winter storm of the season.

The polar front affecting parts of the region was expected to stick around until Sunday, forecasters said.

Heavy rain accompanied by strong winds hit Israel late Tuesday with flooding reported in some parts of the country and snow in northern Israel, Israel Radio said.

Heavy rain fell Wednesday from the north to the south, and snow fell on Mount Hermon and parts of the Golan Heights, Haaretz reported. Forecasters warned snow would fall in parts of the Galilee and highly elevated areas in central Israel as well as in Jerusalem by Thursday.

The Transport Ministry urged people to avoid driving and to opt instead for public transportation in coming days, Israel Radio reported.

The Palestinian Ministry of Education ordered schools in some West Bank areas closed Wednesday following heavy overnight rain, Ma'an News Agency reported. An official from the Palestinian meteorological department told Ma'an snow was expected in West Bank areas Thursday and Friday.

Schools also were closed in Gaza where heavy flooding was reported, Israel Radio said

In Jordan, authorities declared a state of alert as the cold air spread, with snow predicted in the mountains Wednesday evening, the Jordan Times reported.

In Lebanon, a snow storm swooped in from Russia, hitting parts of the country late Tuesday with forecasts promising several days of rain, snow and low temperatures, Naharnet said.

In Aleppo, Syria, forecasters predicted a drop in temperatures with rain and snow reported.

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