- Heavy snow covers much of the Middle East, affecting 2 million residents
- Temperatures are about 5 degrees Celsius colder than normal
- Normal weather is expected to return this weekend, CNN meteorologist says
A storm system that has dropped heavy snow and lowered the mercury across much of the Middle East this week was moving out of the area Friday, and temperatures were predicted to return to normal by the weekend.
Some areas recorded their coldest readings in a decade, the United Nations Children's Fund said in a report.
Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq all got slapped with snow, which left more than 2 million residents displaced and refugee children at risk, the agency said.
Temperatures were about 5 degrees Celsius colder than average, CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said. He predicted that a moderating trend would soon restore normal temperatures.
UNICEF said that, through its agencies it had delivered winter supplies to more than a quarter million people in the Syrian cities of Damascus and its suburbs and Homs.
Snowfall in the region is rare but not unheard of, Ward said. Still, this week's snowfall was particularly deep in some areas. Jerusalem recorded its heaviest snowfall in 20 years, according to city officials. Outlying areas were socked with up to 20 centimeters (8 inches) of the stuff.
This week, more than 500 homes on the West Bank were submerged by floodwaters, Palestinian media reported.
A snowstorm blanketed refugee camps in Turkey and Lebanon.
In Jordan, King Abdullah II on Thursday visited the command center coordinating relief aid due to the weather and ordered the army to help citizens in need. Snow and rain in recent days has blocked major highways and roads in the kingdom, the state-run Petra News Agency reported.