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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 January 2008, 12:44 GMT
Mid-East suffers rare cold snap
By Crispin Thorold
BBC News, Amman

Snowfall in Baghdad
Snow has fallen in Baghdad for the first time in living memory
There have been a number of deaths and considerable damage to crops in the Middle East as temperatures in the region have fallen to exceptional lows.

Local reports say that 10 people died in Saudi Arabia after snowfalls.

In Syria, temperatures have dropped to minus 16 degrees Celsius. There has been widespread damage to crops in Syria, Jordan and Israel.

There has also been snow in the Iraqi capital Baghdad for the first time in living memory.

The Middle East is a region used to extremes of temperature - but not ones like these.

Kuwaiti meteorologists are eagerly watching thermometers to see if the previous low recorded in the open desert, minus four degrees Celsius in 1964, could be broken in the coming days.

Some in the Jordanian government are worried that food prices may increase, giving inflation another unwelcome bump.

But reports from Israel suggest the weather may not be bad news for everyone.

Some farmers are suffering, but there has been a jump in the sale of heaters and warm clothes, with retailers saying the demand for some goods has tripled.

This cold snap has been caused by a weather system that began in Siberia.

But meteorologists in the region cannot agree whether it is the result of climate change; the director of Baghdad's Meteorology Department reportedly said it could be, his counterpart in Amman disagrees.

Have you been affected by the cold weather in the Middle East?

Your comments:

This week the ice has not thawed on our goose pond as we have had nights of -3 to -6 and the winds have been 35-48 kmh clear and cold at 740 meters
Nathanael Kinstein, Eli Shomron, West Bank

It's very cold in Jordan despite the sun being out. My car is often registering an outside temperature of less than 5C. We are very concerned about price rises here. Fuel costs were due to go up by 30% or so, but that has been delayed. Staple foods in Amman usually go up in price during the winter but if there's a weather effect on crops, then we might see higher prices.
Mohammed Shahnawaz, Amman, Jordan

It is a beautiful bright blue sky now but must have been about 4C last night. You have to remember the houses are built to keep the heat out! So wearing bobble hats, using a hotwater bottle and warming your pyjamas on a radiator isn't really the image of life in the Middle East. It rained very heavily in the week and it was like Blackpool in November..winds and rains.
June Arber, Doha Qatar

I have lived in Kuwait for the past 26 years and I can say this is the coldest yet. Also, no rain has fallen which would make the weather milder. This is the first time people are actually staying indoors at night!!! Of course sales of heaters, blankets and quits has quadrupled so there is benefit for retailers (the past years have been very mild and no winter colthes were worn!)
Mayada Homad, Kuwait

This cold weather has wiped out all of our banana crop and has severely damaged our citrus. Along with the fact that until now we have had about 1/4 of our normal rainfall, this is not a good year for the average person in the Middle East.
Bill Scheinman, Kibbutz Ginnosar, Israel

I haven't seen snow like this since I was a child growing up in the heart of Damascus. It is spectacularly cold outside, a welcome sight amid all the heated conflicts in the Middle East!
Hazem Bard, Damascus, Syria

I live in Riyadh and the weather has been the coldest I remember! I love it!
Majed, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

It seems that God decided to turn the Holy Land into a big refrigerator about 10 days ago. I use to go outside, late at nights, for years, to do some excercise and the cold strikes you now in the face, even if you are well-covered.To add salt to injury,the wind sarted blowing. Only one thing I don't understand: how Shackleton and his friends survived much much longer and in much much colder conditions.
Simcha, Hod Hasharon, Israel

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