Snow falls in Baghdad for first time in 100 years

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Snow has fallen in Baghdad, Iraq for the first time in approximately 100 years. Although Baghdad sometimes sees hail and sleet, snow has never been seen in living memory.

Snow was also recorded in the western and central parts of the country, where it is also very unusual, and in the Kurdish north, which is mountainous and commonly sees snowfall.

A statement by the meteorology department read "Snow has fallen in Baghdad for the first time in about a century as a result of two air flows meeting. The first one was cold and dry and the second one was warm and humid. They met above Iraq."

Dawood Shakir, director of the meteorology department, told AFP his take on the causation of the snow: "It's very rare. Baghdad has never seen snow falling in living memory. These snowfalls are linked to the climate change that is happening everywhere. We are finding some places in the world which are warm and are supposed to be cold."

Temperatures in some parts of the country fell below freezing, compared to winters that are normally mild in a climate that sees summer temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Snow fell in the capital city from prior to dawn until just after 9 a.m. local time. The flakes failed to provide a covering of snow, instead melting quickly. However, many local people still had positive things to say about the once in a lifetime event.

Mohammed Abdul-Hussein, a 63-year-old in retirement, commented "For the first time in my life I saw a snow-rain like this falling in Baghdad. When I was young, I heard from my father that such rain had fallen in the early '40s on the outskirts of northern Baghdad but snow falling in Baghdad in such a magnificent scene was beyond my imagination."

Fawzi Karim, who runs a small restaurant in Hawr Rajab, six miles from Baghdad said "I asked my mother, who is 80, whether she'd ever seen snow in Iraq before, and her answer was no... This is so unusual, and I don't know whether or not it's a lesson from God," while college student Talib Haider said "a friend of mine called me at 8 a.m. to wake me up and tell me that the sky is raining snow. I rushed quickly to the balcony to see a very beautiful scene. I tried to film it with my cell phone camera. This scene has really brought me joy. I called my other friends and the morning turned out to be a very happy one in my life."

Resident Aysar Khaled told Reuters "I woke up and I saw snow falling, so I woke up all the family and told them to come and see the snowfall. Everyone in Baghdad is delighted because this is a new thing, this is the first time that it snows in Baghdad... The view is very beautiful."

Some viewed it as a sign of impending peace, or at least of an improving situation in the war-torn country. Hassan Zahar, a 60-year-old resident, said "It is the first time we've seen snow in Baghdad. We've seen sleet before, but never snow. I looked at the faces of all the people, they were astonished... A few minutes ago, I was covered with snowflakes. In my hair, on my shoulders. I invite all the people to enjoy peace, because the snow means peace."

The snow was "a new sign of the new Iraq," according to traffic policeman Murtadha Fadhil, who spoke to Reuters whilst sheltering under a balcony. "It's a sign of hope. We hope Iraqis will purify their hearts and politicians will work for the prosperity of all Iraqis."

There are no reports of any bloodshed during the time the snow was falling.