After sweeping Iran’s west and north, a winter air mass lashed capital Tehran on Saturday night, grounding flights, shuttering schools, blocking highways, and above all surprising people to see heavy snowfall after ten years, Tasnim News reports.
The heavy fall of snow that began in Tehran on Saturday evening has brought the two airports, Imam Khomeini International Airport and Mehrabad, to a halt with planes stranded for long hours. Officials say the Tehran-bound flights would fly to the airport of Isfahan, in the center of Iran. Air and railroad travel passengers described scenes of confusion and frustration. Some trains destined for Tehran have been stranded midway, with people stuck in the train for hours.
Some 20 provinces in the west and north of Iran were affected by the snowfall that began on Thursday and peaked on Saturday night, with some mountainous areas receiving as much 1.3 meters of snow according to official news agency IRNA. With many schools closed and offices delaying their opening times, Tehrani families made the most of the blizzard.
“This past year we have had very bad news and this is the first good news we have had, and we are happy,” Hadi, a transportation worker who had taken the day off to make snowmen with his children, told AFP.
Iran’s skiiers, who have been denied much action in recent months due to an uncommonly warm winter, were also pleased.
“It’s incredible. There’s been a meter of powder today, and it’s still snowing. My car is buried up to its side mirror,” said a Western diplomat, waiting for the lifts to open at Dizin ski resort, an hour north of the capital.
Iran’s drivers were having less fun, with thousands blocked on motorways out of the capital. Mohammad Ali Abtahi, who served as cabinet chief under ex-president Mohammad Khatami, posted a message on social media showing his car stuck on the motorway to the religious center of Qom, around 150 kilometers south of the capital.
“It’s been nine hours that we are stuck out here with hundreds of other cars. We haven’t budged one meter,” he wrote.
Hundreds of Red Crescent teams were mobilized to bring help to the stranded motorists, with many having run out of petrol after hours of keeping their cars heated. A Red Crescent spokesman told the official IRNA news agency that 6,600 people had been put up in emergency accommodation.
The state gas company said it was bracing for a major surge in demand as temperatures were set to drop to minus-20 Celsius in certain northern regions. In Tehran, local media said several cars and electricity cables had been damaged when trees collapsed on to cars under the weight of the snow. Mayor Mohammad Ali Najafi asked young Tehranis to help municipality workers to shake trees and dislodge the snow in order to avoid further accidents.
Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri ordered the country’s Armed Forces to help in relief operations if needed after heavy snowfall causes disruption in some parts of the country on Sunday.
In a message released on Sunday, Major General Baqeri ordered all military units of the country to employ their equipment and manpower and cooperate with rescue workers. The top commander also announced the Armed Forces’ readiness to help in efforts to open roads across the country that have been closed due to the heavy snow.
After sweeping Iran’s west and north, a winter air mass lashed Tehran on Saturday night, grounding flights, shuttering schools, blocking highways, and above all surprising people to see heavy snowfall after ten years. The snowstorm that has blanketed much of Iran’s western and northern parts has also caused power outages and rising gas consumption in some areas.
The snowfall, unprecedented in Tehran in the past decade, has resulted in the closure of schools and many other organizations. The snowstorm that has blanketed much of Iran’s western and northern parts has also caused power outages and rising gas consumption in some areas. The snowfall has in the meantime raised hopes for better water reserves, as low precipitation had caused concerns about drought and a harsh summer in Iran.