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Ice Cube

Winter Storm 'Alexa' Chills Middle East

syrian children

Syrian refugees children play near a snowman in a camp for Syrians who fled their country’s civil war, in the Bekaa valley, eastern Lebanon, Dec. 12, 2013.
A powerful winter storm sweeping the eastern Mediterranean this week is causing mayhem across the region and inflicting extra misery on Syrians convulsed in civil war and refugees who have fled the fighting.

The storm, named Alexa, is expected to last until Saturday, bringing more snow, rain and freezing temperatures to large swaths of Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The bad weather, which began on Wednesday, is taking a disproportionate toll on the 2.2 million refugees living outside Syria and the 6.5 million people displaced within the country.

Igloo

Heaviest snowstorm since 1953 hits Israel

Snow in Israel
© European Jewsih Press
The snow at the Knesset, Israel's parliament, in Jerusalem.
Jerusalem --- The heaviest winter snowstorm in December since 1953 hit Israel, including Jerusalem, Wednesday night and Thursday, prompting school closures and blocking access routes to the Israeli capital.

The stormy weather was expected to persist into the weekend, with snow reaching elevated areas as far south as the Negev Desert on Friday.

Snow began falling on Mount Hermon in the north. Snow is expected later in the week in areas of northern Israel and the Galilee, as well as in high elevations in central Israel.

The Jerusalem municipality sent out an alert that school studies in the capital were canceled. Courses at the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus were also called off for the day.

Igloo

Sun's current solar activity cycle is weakest in a century

Solar Cycle 24
© NASA/SDO/GSFC
This still from a video taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the Aug. 8, 2011 solar flare as it appeared in the ultraviolet range of the light spectrum. The flare registered as an X6.9 class sun storm, the largest of the Solar Cycle 24.

San Francisco - The sun's current space-weather cycle is the most anemic in 100 years, scientists say.

Our star is now at "solar maximum," the peak phase of its 11-year activity cycle. But this solar max is weak, and the overall current cycle, known as Solar Cycle 24, conjures up comparisons to the famously feeble Solar Cycle 14 in the early 1900s, researchers said.

"None of us alive have ever seen such a weak cycle. So we will learn something," Leif Svalgaard of Stanford University told reporters here today (Dec. 11) at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

The learning has already begun. For example, scientists think they know why the solar storms that have erupted during Solar Cycle 24 have caused relatively few problems here on Earth.

The sun often blasts huge clouds of superheated particles into space, in explosions known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). Powerful CMEs that hit Earth squarely can trigger geomagnetic storms, which in turn can disrupt radio communications, GPS signals and power grids.

But such effects have rarely been seen during Solar Cycle 24, even though the total number of CMEs hasn't dropped off much, if at all. The explanation, researchers said, lies in the reduced pressure currently present in the heliosphere, the enormous bubble of charged particles and magnetic fields that the sun puffs out around itself.

Snowflake Cold

Rare snowstorm near Syria-Lebanon border brings havoc, disrupts aid

lebanon snow storm
© AFP Photo / STR
A Syrian refugee shovels snow outside her tent in the makeshift refugee camp of Terbol near the Bekaa Valley town of Zahleh in eastern Lebanon on December 11, 2013.
At least two people were killed and 14 injured as the first snowfall of the season hit Syria and Lebanon. High winds and freezing temperatures affected refugee camps and disrupted international aid. More severe weather is expected this winter.

The storm, named 'Alexa,' took the lives of two people and injured 14 others in Lebanon, Ya Libnan reported, citing Red Cross Secretary General George Kettaneh.

The winter storm caused transportation chaos in the region and grounded the UN humanitarian airlift, which was scheduled to bring food and supplies from Iraq to the northeastern Kurdish areas of Syria. Tens of thousands of people are isolated in those areas, waiting for the aid to arrive.

"Qamishli airport (in Syria) has suspended all flights due to weather conditions, snow and poor visibility," UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHR) spokesman Dan McNorton told Reuters. "We're not going to be able to make those flights happen until the weather improves."

The storm is estimated to last until Saturday, with temperatures plummeting below seven degrees Celsius in mountainous regions of Lebanon.

"I don't know if this tent will hold up, it's just a few flimsy pieces of metal holding it up," refugee Abu Suleiman told AP. He resides in the Lebanese town of Marj, located near the border with Syria.

In the northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal, temperatures hovered just above zero degrees Celsius. A member of the town's municipal council, Wafiq Khalaf, said that refugees were "shivering with cold, especially the ones in tents."

"At the moment there is more than 10 centimeters of snow on the ground, but more is expected," he told AFP.

Igloo

Ice slides from roof, crushes cars in Texas


This scary video was taken in Plano, Texas, where warming weather caused thick ice sheets deposited by a winter storm to slide from the roof of an apartment complex Sunday. According to WFAA 8, ice several inches thick crushed cars and tore through trees.

Residents recorded the falling ice with their smartphones as it smashed onto sidewalks and cars parked on the street. Luckily, no one was hurt. At least eight cars were damaged, some with collapsed roofs and shattered windshields.

Ice Cube

Watch the moment enormous sheets of ice in Texas CRUSH a Jaguar after falling off a building

A Jaguar has been destroyed and several others seriously damaged following a spate of ice sheets thawing and falling from sloped buildings in Plano, Texas

Authorities closed streets as maintenance crews worked to push the ice from buildings to prevent any accidents

The ice storm that hit the area this week left over 250,000 residents and businesses without power and caused over 1000 flight delays


Shocked bystanders watched aghast as huge sheets of ice slipped off the top of a building in Texas and onto cars below, completely crushing them.

Plano, in north Texas, has been hit hard with snow and ice since the weekend, but thawing temperatures have started to melt the large quantities of snow and ice that have built up.

The affect has caused major damage to vehicles parked in the streets.

In one case, which was caught on video, a Jaguar was crushed in Plano, after its roof collapsed and windows smashed under the weight of the falling freeze.

The sheets also damaged a Corvette and several other vehicles.

Snowflake Cold

Lebanon takes action ahead of snowstorm Alexa

sidon residents
© The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari
Sidon residents buy essentials to prepare for Alexa.
Caretaker Education Minister Hassan Diab announced Tuesday the closure of public and private schools as municipalities across Lebanon began taking precautionary measures in anticipation of a brutal snowstorm.

"Because Lebanon is subject to the harsh snowstorm, 'Alexa,' which has already caused a sharp decline in temperatures, and rainwater is expected to increase and block traffic, to avoid the risks caused by the storm and its impact on school students ... public and private schools will be closed and classes will not be held Wednesday," the statement from the Education Ministry said.

Snowflake

Istanbul, Turkey, left suffering from effects of heavy snowfall

Istanbul snow
© AA photo
Snow began falling on Istanbul’s outskirts in the afternoon and intensified in the late hours of the evening in the center of the city.
The first snow of winter started to fall in Istanbul tonight as the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality took tight measures to prevent disruptions to traffic and public transport.

Snow began falling on Istanbul's outskirts in the afternoon and intensified in the late hours of the evening in the center of the city. The snowy weather is expected to affect Istanbul until Dec. 12, meteorological officials said.

Snowflake Cold

Historic cold across Pacific Northwest‏

Image
Historic December cold descended upon parts of the Pacific Northwest early Sunday morning, as the mercury dipped to as low as -41 degrees below zero in Oregon. Under a thick blanket of snow, several locations set new records.

At Lakeview, Oregon the mercury dropped to -27 degrees below zero, setting a new all-time record for that location. The previous record was -22 degrees below zero set back in February of 1933 and again in January of 1937.

Perhaps even more impressive was on the west side of the Cascade mountains where Eugene, Oregon fell to -10 degrees below zero Sunday morning. Ironically, this is not an all-time record for Eugene. As luck would have it, Eugene's all-time record low is -12 degrees below zero was set on this very day back in 1972, making today the second coldest day in Eugene modern day history. Records date back more than 123 years (to 1890) in Eugene.

Snowflake Cold

Arctic blast sent subzero chill to Rockies, Plains; Hard freeze for California

staying cold
A bitterly cold air mass spread across the western states and into the Plains and Midwest during the first week of December. One of the coldest temperatures recorded happened the morning of Saturday, Dec. 7, when the temperature in Jordan, Montana dropped as low as -42!

In some cities, the frigid air mass has been the coldest seen in years or has broken daily record lows. Here's a few examples: