BEIRUT/SIDON, Lebanon: Stormy weather over the last few days has brought with it enough snow for slopes to open, finally giving skiers an opportunity to get their winter fix. The Cedars Ski resort in Bsharri and Zaarour Club in Mount Sannine told The Daily Star by phone that they were planning to open their slopes Saturday after heavy snow overnight Thursday. However, the popular Laqlouq Resort does not plan to open for at least another week and said they would announce their opening via social media.
Although good news for winter sports enthusiasts, the gale force winds and heavy rain left towns across the country picking up the pieces of toppled billboards, streets littered with random debris and closed seaports.
For the first time this year, wind speeds topped 70 kilometers per hour and the rain left streets in the northern district of Akkar and around the southern city of Sidon swamped. Fallen trees, detritus even trash blown into the roads stopped traffic.
Sidon’s maritime road in the direction of Jiyyeh was strewn with garbage after tons of waste from a roadside dump was swept into the streets. A municipal bulldozer was seen clearing the road in the early hours of Friday.
In preparation for the storm Thursday, fishermen in south Lebanon had lifted their boats from the water or lashed them securely to the quayside to protect them against storm surges. Despite the precautions, the storm caused local fisherman Mustafa Wehbi’s fishing boat to sink.
The southern seaports of Sidon and Tyre remained closed Friday.
The storm damaged crops, properties, and uprooted citrus and banana trees in Tyre, the state-run National News Agency reported.
Temperatures dropped significantly overnight Thursday, with snow covering mountains across the country above 900 meters.
In Koura the storm led to power outages across most villages. Minyeh-Dinnieh was covered with 10 centimeters of snow, which resulted in blocked roads. Chouf had snowfall and wind, which uprooted trees, damaged billboards and cut power lines. However, roads were only blocked at 1,200 meters above sea level.
The Civil Defense rescued five people trapped in their cars in Sannine and transported the passengers to safety. Hasbaya was covered in up to 40 centimeters of snow which isolated the towns of Kfar Shuba and Shebaa. The rainfall damaged crops but caused the level of the Hasbani and Wazzani rivers to rise.
In Rashaya, heavy snowfall at an altitude of 1200 meters and heavy rain caused the roads to flood and the level of the Qaraoun lake to rise. Public institutions and shops were closed due to the dangerous weather. The Internal Security Forces and the Lebanese Army conducted emergency patrols.
Meanwhile, the Directorate General of the ISF reported that the road of Kfar Zebian toward Hadath Baalbeck, the Qobeiyat road toward Hermel, the Dahr al-Baidar and Tarshish roads toward Zahle and the Kesrouan road leading toward the ski resort area of Faraya were blocked due to heavy snowfall.
The Lebanese Meteorological Services at Rafik Hariri International Airport reported that Lebanon temperatures over the weekend will be warmer, ranging between 11 and 16 degrees along the coast, 2 and 10 in the mountains, minus 3 and 2 in the Cedars and 4 and 10 in the Bekaa Valley Saturday. However, low morning temperatures will leave roads icy above 1,200 meters.
Sunday the temperatures will range between 12 and 19 along the coast, 3 and 12 in the mountains, minus 2 and 4 in the Cedars and 5 and 11 in the Bekaa Valley.