A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

blogger envy: Riemer Brouwer on the Daily Star

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on February 1, 2008

Right now I am torn between acute blogger envy and falling on the floor laughing. Lebanon has been experiencing serious winter weather for the past three days, with heavy snowfalls even at low elevations, and freezing rain close to sea level.

Even in my area, the air smelled like snow both yesterday and the day before, and we had a massive hail-storm on Tuesday.

The weather has been monumental, spectacular and utterly deserving of news coverage. But the Daily Star‘s front page article yesterday was at best Zen’ly opaque and at worst utterly moronic.

And Riemer Brouwer of Lebanon Update has written a brilliantly sardonic, witty roast of the piece. Whatever else you do today, you want to read his blog post. I laughed out loud three times, and then laughed again when I read it for the second time.

Here’s the text of the original article, “Harsh weather to persist until Thursday evening“:

BEIRUT: Severe storms continued to batter Lebanon Wednesday, with weather forecasters expecting the cold wave to recede as of Thursday night. Officials from the Civil Aviation Department at the Rafik Hariri International Airport told The Daily Star on Wednesday that the storm that has gripped Lebanon over the past two days will continue until Thursday night.

“It is normal to see such winds, rainfalls and snowstorms at this time of the year,” said one of the officials, who wished to remain anonymous. “But what is a bit exceptional is that low temperatures have hit the entire country.”

Asked if similar storms are to strike Lebanon anytime soon, the official said: “Everything is possible.”

However, the official could not deny or confirm claims that the current storm is to be followed by a wave of freezing cold.

“Every cold wave might be followed by a freezing cold wave,” he said. “But it is difficult to confirm this. It is also difficult to predict when it will occur because any storm needs time to be formed.”

An extremely rare biting cold wave has swept Lebanon over the last two weeks, leaving at least three people dead and inflicting heavy losses on agricultural crops.

The Civil Aviation Department forecast on Wednesday predicted cloudy and rainy weather for Thursday. The forecast called for southwesterly winds blowing at a speed varying between 10 and 35 kilometers per hour, with poor visibility in the highlands.

Temperatures are expected to vary between 5 and 13 degrees Celsius along the coast, between 8 degrees Celsius below zero and 6 degrees in the mountains and between -1 and 9 degrees in the Bekaa Valley.

The current polar snowstorm hitting Lebanon reached its peak on Wednesday with a blanket of white covering villages at an altitude of 600 meters. The severe winds accompanying the storm inflicted heavy losses on crops and played havoc with electricity and telephone cables in a number of Lebanese regions.

Civil Defense personnel struggled to clear snow from mountainous roads, while urging citizens to avoid such roads and call 112 and 125 for help.

Southern regions saw torrential rains and biting cold on Wednesday, with snow falling at altitudes above 500 meters for the first time this year.

Jezzine Mayor Said Abu Akl told The Daily Star on Wednesday that all of the qada’s roads were blocked by snow.

“The municipality is working around the clock along with Civil Defense personnel and the Public Works Ministry to reopen all closed roads,” he said.

In Sidon, hailstorms, strong winds and sea currents shut down the city’s harbor for the second day in a row. The heavy rains flooded the Southern port city’s roads, transforming them into fast-running rivers.

Heavy storms plunged many Southern regions into darkness.

Gergey Haddad, mayor of the Jezzine region of Roum, told The Daily Star the town has been suffering power cuts for two days.

“We call on Electricite du Liban to fix electrical defects as soon as possible,” Haddad said.

In the Chouf, snow fell at elevations of 800 meters and above, cutting off roads and damaging agricultural lands. Several vehicles were stuck on roads in the Middle and Higher Chouf where the depth of snow reached 40 centimeters.

The freezing cold brought life to a standstill in most of the Chouf villages and caused schools and businesses to close. The snowstorm also destroyed crops, particularly olive trees, as well as water pipes and telephone cables.

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