Fierce Winter Snowstorm Lashes Israel's Neighbors

Beirut airport briefly shuts down as schools throughout Lebanon closed; Jordan ships snowplows to Palestinian Authority.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Beirut pedestrian ducks behind an umbrella as powerful winds kick up massive wave - but wo
Beirut pedestrian ducks behind an umbrella as powerful winds kick up massive wave - but wo

Israel is not alone in hunkering down to face a nervously-anticipated fierce winter storm.

The severe weather front was already lashing the east coast of the Mediterranean on Tuesday morning, and forced a brief closure of Beirut airport, according to the National News Agency.

At the same time, the authorities ordered schools throughout the country to close on Wednesday as the storm, named Zina, hit the country.

Air traffic was halted at 7:00 pm (1500 GMT) with Lebanon buffeted by heavy winds, snow and flooding in some places. Flights resumed about an hour later.

The education ministry ordered all schools to stay closed Wednesday but left it up to authorities at the country's universities to decide whether to open.  

Weather conditions have led authorities in neighboring countries to also take precautionary measures.

In Jordan, ministries and other government offices are to be closed Wednesday, while official exams this week are being postponed.  

With potentially heavy snow expected in the region,Jordan has sent snowplows to Palestinian Authority-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria.

As has previously been reported, municipal authorities in Israel have been frantically preparing for the expected snowstorm, particularly in Jerusalem, where last year's freak storm brought much of the capital to a virtual standstill.

Schools have cancelled all classes in Jerusalem, as well as in much of Judea and Samaria, where massive snow drifts and widespread power-outages left thousands stranded for days last year. 

But having learned the lessons of last year's chaos, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said this time the city is ready.

"Lessons from the great storm [of last year] have been learned, and the municipality and the Jerusalem police will finish all preparations, which took months, tomorrow," Barkat said on Monday.

Strong winds and heavy rains have already hit much of Israel, but the full brunt of the storm is only expected to come be felt on Wednesday.

AFP contributed to this report.