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The Mountains of Lebanon are crowned with snow

November 23-26, 2004

Second storm expected to bring more cold weather, plenty of snow

By Hania Taan

Special to The Daily Star

Friday, November 26, 2004

 BEIRUT: Following the storm that struck much of Lebanon earlier this week, another tempest hit the country Thursday, bringing windy weather that will likely continue until Saturday, according to the Weather Forecast Department at Beirut International Airport.

 "The country will see heavy rain, and snow will fall at 1,000 meters on Friday," said an employee at the Weather Forecast Department. The rain will be accompanied by high winds.

 This cold weather will see temperatures along the coast ranging from 10-18 Celcius, and as low as 2 Celcius in mountains. Temperatures in the Bekaa Valley will range from 0 Celcius to 12 degrees, and as low as -6 degrees in the Cedars.

 Visibility will be good along the coast but will be worse in the mountains.

 However, the weather is expected to improve on Saturday.

 The Agricultural Scientific Research Authority in Tel Amara, Riyaq, said the storm originated in Eastern Europe.

 People are advised to avoid mountain roads, and farmers are being urged to protect greenhouses from strong winds.

 Waddah Fakhri, the president of the Higher Coordination Committee of Agricultural Unions and Cooperatives in Lebanon, told

 The Daily Star that the two storms this week have caused severe crop damage nationwide.

 "The banana crops were greatly affected, greenhouses were damaged and trees were uprooted," he said.

 Fakhri called on the government to establish a fund to protect farmers and their crops from such natural catastrophes, adding that

 several draft laws have already been submitted to Parliament's Agriculture Committee in this regard.

 Fakhri also demanded that the government advise the Higher Relief Committee to assess the damage "before their traces disappear."

 The news is better for ski lovers, however, and slopes in Faraya-Mzaar are expected to be ready as of next week, so long as the

 current  storm provides enough of a heavy snowfall, said Christian Rizk, the head of ski facilities at Mzaar.

 Rizk said that a 40-centimeter base is required in order for the slopes to begin receiving skiers.

 By comparison, ski resorts did not open their slopes last year until Dec. 22.

 Meanwhile, the Internal Security Forces are urging people not to drive along mountain roads unless it is urgent, and to abide

 by ISF  instructions to preserve their safety.

 Civil Defense units are still trying to remove the remains of this week's first snowstorm, particularly in the areas of Baskinta, Hermel and Bsharri.

 A statement issued by the Civil Defense advised people to keep water, food, a mobile phone, blankets and a flashlight nearby in case

 it was urgent that they cross mountain roads during the coming storm.

 In case anyone's cars get stuck in snow, citizens should call the ISF and Civil Defense on the following hotlines: 112 or 125.

 To avoid the danger of thunderbolts, antennas of televisions, satellites and internet should also be removed.