Iraqis awoke to see Baghdad covered in snow for the first time in more than a decade today.
Baghdad residents rushed to take pictures while youngsters had snowball fights after a cold wave from Europe sprinkled snow across the city.
The city’s palm trees were outlined in white, while tents belonging to protesters in long-running anti-government demonstrations in Tahrir Square were also covered in snow.
The last recorded snowfall in Baghdad was in 2008, but that was brief and mostly slushy. Before that, it had been a century since the capital saw any snowflakes.
‘Snowfall may continue until Wednesday given the very cold weather,’ said Amer al-Jaberi of the Iraqi Meteorological Centre, explaining that the cold wave had come from Europe.
People on their way to work stopped their cars to take pictures or break out into impromptu snowball fights.
‘Thank God it is snowing this morning,’ said Aymen Ahmed, one of the Tahrir Square protesters. ‘The atmosphere is beautiful … the people are very happy because this is the first time snow falls in Iraq.’
South of the capital, snow also carpeted the Shiite holy city of Karbala which draws pilgrims from around the world to see its golden-domed mausoleums.
Baghdad residents are more suited to heat, with a record temperature of 124F (51C) repeatedly coming under threat in recent years.
Snowfall is more common in northern Iraq, where snow covered the war-battered city of Mosul, but in the centre and south there is rarely enough precipitation.
In 2018, chronic water shortages sparked a health crisis in the centre and south but the following year, heavy rains caused deadly flooding and heavy damage to homes and crops.
Blistering temperatures then hit the north triggering wild fires and scorching crops.
Experts say Iraq lacks the funding or infrastructure to cope with climate change and the desertification of once productive land.