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After Months Of Drought Parts Of Iran Get First Heavy Snowfall

Snow in Tehran, Jan 28th.
Snow in Tehran, Jan 28th.

After months of waiting for the snow to arrive, Tehranis were hit by massive snowfall overnight on Sunday that shut airports and schools but delighted the ski community.

The capital's Imam Khomeini International and Mehrabad airports were shut due to poor visibility "until further notice", state television said.

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 (more than four feet) of snow according to official news agency IRNA.

Iran has been suffering from severe drought, with officials saying that the country has had 60 percent less precipitation this year, with higher than normal temperatures.

Iran's skiers, who have been denied much action in recent months due to an uncommonly warm winter, were making the most of it.

"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," one 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. Hundreds of Red Crescent teams were mobilized to bring help to the stranded motorists, with a spokesman telling the official IRNA news agency that 6,600 people had been put up in emergency accommodation.

But some drivers stranded on a road north of Tehran complained on social media that no emergency services responded to their calls, as they were stranded for hours.

The state gas company said it was bracing for a major surge in demand as temperatures were set to drop to minus-20 Celsius (minus-4 Fahrenheit) 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.

With reporting by AFP