Lebanon News

Warnings issued as Lebanon prepares to face storm Miriam

Children pose for a photo as they ski in Kfar Zebian, Saturday, Jan. 12, 2019. Photo by @FLYINGFROGCO

BEIRUT/SIDON: Preparations are underway as Lebanon begins the week with another battering from fierce winds and heavy rainfall, this time from storm Miriam.

Beginning Sunday evening, storm Miriam is expected to bring wind speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour at its peak Tuesday, according to Beirut airport’s Meteorology Department.

Snow is forecast to reach 1,300 meters Sunday night before dropping to 1,200 Monday and 1,100 meters Tuesday.

In light of the snowy forecast, the Internal Security Forces Sunday closed a number of roads to cars not equipped with snow chains, including at Zahle-Tarshish, Dahr al-Baidar and the pass leading to the Mzaar ski resort in Faraya.

South Lebanon governor Mansour Daou chaired an emergency meeting Sunday with the Disaster Risk Management Unit’s southern contingency to prepare for the oncoming storm, adding they had inspected technical teams to ensure their readiness for any problems with electricity, water or cellphone signals.

Daou called on citizens to heed the advice of the security forces to not venture out in heavy wind or rain and to ensure to leave enough space for others to pass, especially on mountain roads.

In Akkar, the head of the regional snow-clearing center Khaled Dib asked drivers who parked in the Qammoua-Fnaydeq nature reserve to leave the area as quickly and safely as possible in anticipation of heavy snowfall.

Meanwhile, Lebanese Agricultural Research Institute head Michel Afram issued a series of warnings, advising farmers to protect their sheds from the accumulation of snow and ensure they keep warm to maintain the temperatures required for crop growth.

Last week, banana farmers in south Lebanon despaired when floodwaters swept away trees still bearing fruit, constituting “a real disaster.”

Monday will witness a temperature low of 7 degrees and a high of 17 degrees on the coast, reaching lows of minus 2 degrees in the Cedars.

The storm is expected to peak Tuesday, with 100 kph winds kicking up 5 meter waves, accompanied by heavy rainfall and thunderstorms.

As with storm Norma last week, the department warned citizens that strong winds could bring down billboards.

Temperatures will reach a low of 6 degrees and a high of 19 degrees Tuesday, with lows in mountainous areas expected at 3 degrees.

Tuesday’s strong winds are expected to continue into Wednesday, accompanied by light wind and rain, but will continue to subside throughout the afternoon and into Thursday.

The U.N. refugee agency announced that emergency stocks and sanitation supplies were replenished in anticipation of the new storm, while teams are monitoring family separation cases to ensure children are protected during possible evacuations.

The UNHCR reported that at least 22,500 refugees at 570 camps and informal settlements were affected by severe flooding and heavy snow brought by storm Norma last week.

In northern Lebanon’s Minyeh, an 8-year-old Syrian refugee girl drowned when she was swept away by torrential floodwater.

In the Bekaa alone, the UNHCR statement said, at least 847 Syrian refugees had to relocate due to damage to their shelters, while over 700 relocations were reported in the north.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 14, 2019, on page 2.

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