Unprecedented 7.2 Feet Of Snow In Morocco Cuts Off 87 Villages
It’s been a cold start to the year in North Africa, particularly Morocco.
This week, southeast Morocco has been suffering a string of unprecedented snowstorms that have left 24,000 families in need of assistance and some 87 towns and villages cut off, most notably in the Ouarzazate, Taroudant and Zagora regions.
Food and blankets have been distributed to 9,000 families in Ouarzazate–where snow totals reached a staggering 2.2 meters (7.2 feet)–10,000 homes in Taroudant and 5,000 in Zagora.
Moroccan troops were also called in, and safely evacuated a woman in labor from one isolated village:
Volunteer doctors from Rabat and other localities are traveling to the most affected areas, including to Taroudant where some 259 villages have been seriously impacted by the outbreak of cold.
One of the worst affected areas in terms of snow has been Ouarzazate, where accumulations have reached an all-time record-breaking heights, bringing widespread road closures and the shutting of schools and businesses.
Additional ‘orange’ alerts for snow have been issued by Morocco’s General Directorate of Meteorology, with another foot expected across the likes of Haouz, Taroudant, Ouarzazate and Tinghir.
Crucially–and tellingly–what happens in Morocco doesn’t stay in Morocco.
As recently reported by Reuters, the UK is facing a shortage of vegetables after supermarket supplies were hit by “disrupted harvests” (i.e. hail and snow) in southern Europe and north Africa, prompting two major grocers to limit customer purchases.
Asda, Britain’s third largest grocer, said it has introduced a three pack limit for purchases of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, lettuce, salad bags, broccoli, cauliflower and also raspberries, with rival chain Morrisons imposing a two items per customer limit from Wednesday.
“Like other supermarkets, we are experiencing sourcing challenges on some products that are grown in southern Spain and north Africa,” an Asda spokesperson said.
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the supply issues were industry wide, and point to difficult weather in southern Europe and northern Africa which had disrupted harvests across a range of crops.
Grocers said the situation was exacerbated by less winter production in greenhouses in Britain and the Netherlands due to high energy costs.
Compounding the issue, indoor vegetable production across the likes of Britain and the Netherlands has taken a serious hit this winter, with growers unable to afford to heat their greenhouses due to spiraling energy costs.
Britain imports 95% of its tomatoes and 90% of lettuces from December to March, according to BRC data, with the country particularly reliant on Spain, and increasingly on Morocco.
“The situation is beginning to be worrying, as some companies are starting to have problems in meeting their clients’ schedules,” the Association of Fruit and Vegetable Producers’ Organisations of Almeria, Coexphal, said in a statement.
James Bailey, executive director of UK supermarket Waitrose, said extreme weather was to blame: “It’s been snowing and hailing in Spain [and] North Africa — that is wiping out a large proportion of those crops,” he told LBC radio. “Give it about a fortnight and the other growing seasons in other parts of the world will have caught up and we should be able to get that supply back in.”
Consumer frustration, confusion and concern continue to grow:
Power Outages In Georgia Due To Heavy, Blowing Snow
Heavy snow and avalanches have led to traffic restrictions across Georgia’s northwest this week, where a myriad of villages have also been left without power.
The Jvari-Khaishi section of the key Zugdidi-Jvari-Mestia highway, which links the western city to the highlands, is currently closed to all traffic following a spate of avalanches.
Vehicles were also stranded the village of Nakra, with plows struggling to get through.
Georgia’s heavy, blowing snow has also led to widespread power outages, with at least 40 towns and villages currently without electricity in sub-zero lows.
North America’s “Historic” Arctic Outbreak Arrives: “Blizzards, Brutal cold, and Record Snowfall”
A truly monstrous winter storm, described by the National Weather Service as “historic”, is on the cusp of delivering ice, blizzard conditions, and travel disruptions to the U.S., stretching some 2,600 miles from coast to coast.
The majority of America, and just about all of Canada, are seeing temperatures crash well-below seasonal norms from Wednesday with well-over a foot of snow forecast for many: “Blizzards, brutal cold, and record snowfall,” is how Reuters reports it.
Parts of Minnesota, for example, are on for a whopping 25+ inches to close out the week, with Minneapolis on course to bust its February ‘single-storm’ snowfall benchmark which currently stands at 13.8 inches. In fact, totals are forecast to rank among the all-time top storms for any month in the city’s history, according to AccuWeather.
Interstates across Western MN were already beginning to fill with snow as of Tuesday afternoon:
Wyoming has closed 100 miles of Interstate 80 due to blizzard conditions, as the massive Arctic front careened south through Montana where a host of road closures have also been reported, particularly near Lewis and Clark National Forest.
The Northern Plains are currently dealing with a steep temperature drop.
In Rapid City, SD the NWS warned residents Tuesday morning that temperatures would plunge from a high of 50F to near 0F over the next 24 hours. The snow is also coming down hard.
Record-breaking lows and snows are also forecast for the West, according to the NWS’s Weather Prediction Center, with flash freezes predicted in the northern Rockies, feet more snow expected in the western Sierra, as well as South Lake Tahoe, blizzard warnings in effect in northern Montana and southern Wyoming.
Switching to the East, bone-chilling lows and freezing rain will reach the Northeast by Thursday, including across Buffalo where significant impacts are expected, warns AccuWeather.
While north of the border, Canada has been reeling under the effects of this Arctic front for days, culminating in Tuesday’s -50.8C (-59.4F) in Shepherd Bay, Nunavut (with a windchill of -65C/-85F posted).
Conditions are only forecast to worsen as this latest Arctic Outbreak takes hold: