Monday,23 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1229, (15 -21 January 2015)
Monday,23 October, 2017
Issue 1229, (15 -21 January 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Bring back the sun

Many Egyptians had trouble handling last week’s cold snap, reports Ahmed Morsy

Bring back the sun
Bring back the sun
Al-Ahram Weekly

Powerful winter storms and heavy rains swept through the Middle East and North Africa region last week, with some countries still suffering from low temperatures this week. As creatures used to the heat of sun, many Egyptians had difficulty adapting to the cold wave.

Though the temperature dipped on Wednesday and Thursday of last week to an average of five degrees Celsius and peaked at 11 degrees Celsius, in other words well above freezing, many people stayed home, almost causing Cairo’s routine traffic congestion to disappear in the second half of the day.

“It’s freezing outside. We are all turning into Eskimos,” said one Egyptian on Twitter.

Egyptian homes tend to be better equipped to deal with the heat, which dominates for most of the year, so staying at home without a heater became a problem for many people.
In the absence of proper heating, getting out of bed and making it to the shower became a task of Herculean proportion.

“I feel cold whenever I think of leaving home and going out and so I end up staying in out of laziness,” one writer posted on Facebook. “Washing my hands is a downer. I can practically feel the frostbite coming on,” said another.

Parents armed themselves and their children against the cold when heading to school. “When I leave house, my mother runs after me with an extra scarf or jacket,” one person said on Twitter.

The Weekly visited one of Cairo’s largest stores to discover crowds of people lining up to buy heaters. Shelves emptied while workers were kept busy sticking barcodes onto newly arrived stock, just in time for the crowds of customers.

The store was offering discounts on many heaters, with some Chinese products going for LE45.

For some people, heaters were quite a discovery. “They are a great invention and every home should have one,” one housewife said while holding onto her just-purchased heater.

The Egyptian Meteorological Authority (EMA) produced depressing forecasts about when the cold snap would end, causing further misery among an already cold-besieged people.

In the middle of last week, a sandstorm also engulfed Cairo for a couple of days, followed by brief rainfall on Wednesday. At least five of Egypt’s ports were temporarily closed because of the wintry conditions, including high wind speeds in the Gulf of Suez, a spokesperson from the Red Sea Ports Authority said.

The lowest temperatures and even snow was seen in some parts of the Sinai Peninsula.

In the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, weather conditions were harsh with gusty winds toppling a minaret and the port remained closed for almost the whole of the week.

The wintry conditions damaged the Ibn Khaldoun Mosque in the heart of the city, and high wind speeds led to rough surf, causing a container vessel to smash into a dock in the Alexandria Port, doing damage to the quay and containers aboard the ship.

Campaigns were launched to remind people of the suffering of those who might not have sufficient clothes or blankets. One campaign, dubbed “Let’s Help Each Other against the Cold Weather,” collected blankets and winter clothes for those in need. Though launched to target all the governorates, it concentrated particularly on Upper Egypt and rural villages.

The weather improved early this week, with temperatures much improved. The EMA, in a statement released on Sunday, said temperatures in Cairo will increase by three degrees for a high of 17 degrees and a low of nine.

The authority said that temperatures will increase noticeably from Sunday, but it didn’t rule out another severe cold snap over the coming weeks.

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