December 18, 2013 - Snow in the Middle East

Snow in the Middle East

A rare winter storm brought cold temperatures, wind, rain and snow to the Middle East in early December, 2013. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured this true-color image of the post-storm region on December 16. Three days after the storm ended, snow still clings to the higher elevations of Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel and the West Bank, and Jordan.

Winter storm Alexa dumped as much as 30 to 50 cm (12 to 20 in) of snow in Jerusalem alone between December 10 and 13. Amman, Jordan received about 45 cm (18 in) of snow, and the storm also brought cold winds and snow to Lebanon and Syria. Snow fell in Cairo, Egypt for the first time in 112 years.

According to Global News, Alexa was described by authorities as the worst in decades, crippling the city of Jerusalem with heavy snowfall and leaving thousands without power in Israel and the West Bank. Lower elevations dealt with torrential rainfall and severe flooding. At least 40,000 people were reported to have evacuated flooded areas in Gaza, where flood waters washed away possession, killed livestock and damaged thousands of homes. The cold temperatures and snow also brought life-threatening conditions to hundreds of thousands of refugees in Syria, where tents used as housing have been covered with thick snow. According to Relief web, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) began airlifting humanitarian aid from Erbil, Iraq to Qamishly in northeastern Syria on December 15. At least eleven more airlifts were planned over the next several days.

Image Facts
Satellite: Aqua
Date Acquired: 12/16/2013
Resolutions: 1km (130.6 KB), 500m (457.8 KB), 250m (1.1 MB)
Bands Used: 1,4,3
Image Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC