When will it snow?
“So many clients cancelled their reservations for the month of January,” said Walid Kanaan, who runs the luxurious InterContinental Mountain Resort and Spa at Mzaar, nestled in the mountain town of Faraya, northeast of Beyrouth.
“The lack of snow has forced clients to postpone their bookings until February or March, and truth be told, I understand their disappointment,” Kanaan told AFP.
Skiing, snowboarding, mountain climbing and snowmobiling are fashionable in the winter months in Faraya, which is located 2,500 metres (8,200 feet) above sea level.
But the only activities in the town so far this year have been the roasting of chestnuts and corn by street vendors, hiding from the sun under umbrellas as they wait in vain for customers.
“Thirty years of experience have taught us that half our seasonal sales happen between December 20th and January 5th, so that’s 40 percent of our season gone up in smoke,” he added.
For two years now, Charbel Salameh has charged 100$ (69 €) per hour teaching amateur skiers in Lebanon’s snow.
“Foreigners used to come to Lebanon in the winter just to take ski lessons, and they would book their lessons online in advance,” he told AFP. “This year, they haven’t come yet.”
Temperatures over the holiday season, usually lucrative for Lebanon’s ski resorts, have run as high as 24 degrees Celsius (75 Fahrenheit) in the capital Beyrouth.
There have been conflicting local weather reports about a possible snowstorm later in January, while experts are divided on whether global warming is to blame for the seemingly endless summer.
“Temperature highs in Lebanon have remained constant for the past 125 years, but the lows have risen 2.9 degrees Celsius (37 Fahrenheit),” said Nadim Farjallah, author of a report on temperatures at the American University of Beyrouth.
“The short winter season could also negatively impact agriculture this summer as groundwater levels are dropping, making irrigation difficult,” Farjallah said.
Others however are more optimistic, citing past years in which Lebanon’s snow was late in coming.
“In the past three years there has been a change in weather: rain and snow used to start in October or November, but today they do not come until January or February,” said Mark Whaybi, head of Beyrouth airport’s weather centre.
“But let’s not forget that Lebanon has seen temperatures this high in past decades: in 1966 and 1971, temperatures in Beyrouth hit 27 and 28 Celsius in January,” he pointed out.
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Tags: Lebanon, Ski, snow