As Lebanese residents anticipated another Easter holiday, many living in higher altitudes had an unexpected surprise–snow blanketed their surroundings created a feeling of Christmas rather than this year’s spring holiday in late April.
So what caused the chilly climate? A low-pressure storm system came across Saturday with cold winds reaching up to 20 to 40 kilometers per hour. As if not enough, it brought along bouts of thunderstorms, rain, and even snow flurries for altitudes reaching 1,200 meters and up.
According to the Lebanese Meteorology Department, these types of conditions in spring happen due to a rainfall cycle that occurs every five or six years.
In fact, there has been more than twice as much rainfall in 2019 compared to that of 2018. The Meteorology Department reported that there were 452 millimeters of rainfall from September 2017 to April 2018, whereas from September 2018 to April 2019, so far, there have been 1,001 millimeters of rainfall.
Despite the unexpected yet beautiful sight of a “White Easter,” this change in water cycles has some adverse effects on the country.
The Meteorology Department released a warning Sunday that cars without all-wheel-drive or snow tires could expect to skid if driving in areas of 1,200 meters or higher.
In addition, several crops have suffered due to such inclement weather. In Dinnieh, north of Lebanon, many crops of cherry, pear, and apple froze over, causing concern for farmers in the area.
Moreover, some towns were completely cut off because roads were blocked by the snow in areas like the southern Chouf. As a result, the Internal Security Forces held checkpoints in various areas of high altitudes across the country to only allow passage to SUVs or cars equipped with snow tires.
The good news is that the Meteorology Department anticipates that the unusual conditions will continue to last until Monday. After that, the weather should begin to warm up again, although it will still be lower than the annual average around this time of year.