Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Heavy Rains in Egypt Followed by Sandstorms

Heavy rains that started on the weekend of March 7 and 8 caused deadly traffic accidents, flooding, school and road closures as well as other disruptions in many parts of Egypt. Some of the worst hit areas include the Sinai, the adjacent Gulf of Suez, and Upper Egypt. In remote areas the weekend storms damaged mud-brick homes in oasis towns in Egypt’s desert Wadi Al-Gedid governorate, bad weather also descended on the Nile Delta area.

Egyptian authorities declared an emergency alert on Sunday in the town St. Catherine in St Sinai. Residents panicked as the area was hit by a flood after heavy rain. It is too early to know the full extent of the extent of the damage.

A total of 16 people are known to have been killed so far in weather-related accidents and heavy rains. This is not the first time that extreme weather has caused deaths in Egypt this year. Four hikers died while climbing mountains close to St. Catherine when they were stranded by a freak snowstorm in February.

Fights were also disrupted. In one rain related incident the ceiling of the international arrivals hall of Hurghada Airport was damaged. This forced international flights to be transferred to the domestic travel terminal.

Electricity was cut off in South Sinai, Nuweiba as well as in hundreds of villages in Kafr El-Sheikh

After the weekends heavy rainfalls and hail, more rain and sandstorms are lashing parts of Egypt including areas around the Red Sea and Mediterranean coasts. The sandstorms impede visibility and may cause the closure of some ports.  They are expected to last until Thursday.

Unlike the snowstorm that struck the Middle East at the end of last year, these unstable weather patterns are a normal part of Egyptian weather for this time of year.

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