AMMAN - Snow showers, heavy rain and high winds gripped the Holy Land and Middle East countries on Tuesday, paralysing life in some areas but also bringing welcome relief to drought-hit regions.
Snow fell in the Jordanian capital and most regions of the desert kingdom, blocking off several roads into Amman, where schools kept their doors shut and police advised residents to stay indoors.
The rainfall was seen by many as a godsend in Jordan, which has been declared one of the world's 10 driest countries. As in other countries of the region, no casualties were reported.
Snow fell on Jerusalem for the first time this winter as well as in northern Israel. The cold snap brought heavy snowfall on the Golan Heights - seized from Syria in 1967 - where schools had to be closed for the day.
In Iran, parts of the north of the country and Tehran were paralysed after being hit by several days of record snowfall, with dozens of flights cancelled and key roads also cut off.
State media said up to 1.5 metres (five feet) of snow had fallen in the north over the past few days, the heaviest in at least 10 years.
"After years of drought in some parts of the country, we are witnessing good snowfall," Ali-Mohammad Nourian, the head of Iran's meterological organisation, told state television.
"This blessing from God" coincides with celebrations to mark the anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, he said.
The weather service in Lebanon said the high winds and storms, which descended on the region at the weekend, was expected to ease on Wednesday.
Snow blanketed Mount Lebanon from an altitude of 700 metres (about 2,300 feet) and the Bekaa Valley of eastern Lebanon, with snowploughs busy at work to try to keep open the Beirut-Damascus highway.
Temperatures plunged to minus 9 degrees Celsius (16 Fahrenheit) at night in the Bekaa and to six degrees (43 Fahrenheit) in the Lebanese capital.
Heavy snow and rain fell in Syria for a fifth straight day, raising water levels in the country's reservoirs. The heaviest showers hit the Hama region of northwest Syria.