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Ancient city of Petra flooded after 6 months’ worth of rain in a day, Jordan

petra city after flash floods - december 2022

Popular ancient city of Petra, Jordan experienced unusually heavy rains on December 26, 2022, resulting in severe flooding that forced around 1 700 people to evacuate the archeological site. Tourist routes at the site have been reopened on December 27 and movement across the city restored.

While bad weather affected most of the country, Raed Khattab, head of the Jordan meteorological department, said that the country’s southern region, where Petra is located, has received the worst of the rain.

According to the Petra Tourism Development Authority, the storm brought 80 mm (3.1 inches) of rain to some areas of the Petra region out of 172.4 mm (6.78 inches) of its average annual rainfall.

The resulting flood triggered the evacuation of 1 700 tourists.

There are no reports of injuries and the city has been seeing normal movement since December 27.

In the Ma’an governorate, also in the southern part of the Kingdom, a bus traveling to Al-Hussein Bin Talal University was washed up and overturned as a result of flash flooding, injuring three people.

Similar flash floods in Petra took place on November 9, 2018, forcing nearly 4 000 people to evacuate. Contrary to some media reports, there were no fatalities during the event.1

The last fatal flash flood struck the city in 1963 when 22 French tourists and a local guide were killed.2

In response, Jordan’s Department of Antiquities built a dam to keep water from entering the canyon leading to the Treasury — the most famous temple in Petra.

An alarm system was installed as added protection in 2014, with sirens set to go off when flood water rises above 4 meters (13 feet).

The system was triggered for the first time on November 9, 2018, through a computer in the Petra Authority’s control room. The computer is connected to eight rain forecast systems and two water detection stations placed in the area, within 8 km (5 miles) of Petra.

References:

1 Major flash floods hit ancient city of Petra, Jordan – The Watchers – November 10, 2022

2 In Jordan’s ancient Petra, sirens warn of flash floods – AP – November 18, 2018

Featured image credit: Petra Tourism Development Authority

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