Winter storm set to hit the Levant and Middle East

A bout of winter weather set to bring rain, snow and gusty winds across the region.

Stormy Lebanon
Storm clouds gather along the eastern Mediterranean shore as a winter storms brings rain and snow [EPA]

An area of low pressure in the eastern Mediterranean Sea is expected to sweep through the Levant and Middle East region in the next few days, bringing heavy rain and significant snow at higher elevations.

There have been some changes ahead of this weather system to the relatively settled winter weather of the Middle East.

In Qatar, visibility was greatly reduced by dust and sand on Monday as winds increased to 29kph with gusts as high as 60kph. Winds were expected to increase even further on Tuesday, hitting the country’s National Sports Day events.

The country’s capital, Doha, has very poor air quality at the best of times and dust in the atmosphere produces a marked increase in respiratory illness, particularly in children.

The strong southeasterly wind which developed in Qatar is known as the “kaus”. It occurs in advance of a trough of low pressure, such as the one currently over the Mediterranean.

The wind tends to be funneled through the upper portion of the Gulf region by the Zagros Mountains of Iran. This explains why winds at Bushehr on Iran’s Gulf coast were averaging 60kph on Tuesday.

The kaus typically lasts two to three days and this is expected to be the case, with the more frequent northwesterly “shamal” expected to establish itself across the Arabian Peninsula by the weekend.

Meanwhile, heavy rain will help alleviate the ongoing drought across the Levant region. Beirut is expected to see at least 70mm of rain from now until Saturday. This is about two week’s worth of rain during a typical February.

In the Beqaa Valley, where thousands of Syrian refugees are living under canvas, up to 50cm of snow is possible. Temperatures in the region are likely to be well below freezing overnight for the best part of a week.

Source: Al Jazeera