Rare snowstorm closes roads, schools, businesses in Jordan

A rare winter storm on Thursday dumped up to 10 centimeters (4 inches) of snow in parts of Jordan, closing roads, schools and businesses.

The director of the state meteorology department, Abdul-Halim abu-Hazeem, said more snow was expected during the day in several areas of the kingdom.

Temperatures dropped below 0 degrees Celsius (32 Fahrenheit) during Thursday's snowfall. Parents and children played with the snow around their houses while plows worked to clear Amman's hilly streets. Most banks and some government offices also closed in Amman within hours of opening Thursday.

An airport official said air traffic was unaffected by the storm, which contained winds of up to 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph).

Police spokesman Maj. Bashir al-Da'ajah said that approximately 100 traffic accidents were recorded on Thursday, including a Saudi bus that overturned near the northeastern city of Zarqa, injuring 12 passengers.

The Middle East is accustomed to mild winters, although big storms have occasionally battered the region. Last year, up to 50 centimeters (1.6 feet) of snow fell in western and northern parts of Jordan, reports AP.

In 2004, Jordan received up to 90 centimeters (three feet) of snow in what was described as the kingdom's worst snowstorm since 1950.

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