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Heaviest Snow in 50 Years along Caspian Shore of Iran

By: Christopher C. Burt, 8:26 PM GMT on February 24, 2014

Heaviest Snow in 50 Years along Caspian Shore of Iran

This is an old story that was just brought to my attention by one of my blog readers, but on February 4-7 earlier this month a snowstorm buried the city of Rasht under 60 cm (23.6”) of snow. Heavy snow is not uncommon for most of mountainous Iran but Rasht lies at 7 meters (23 feet) below sea level on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea.



Up to two meters (79”) of snow apparently fell in some localities near the Caspian Sea on February 3-7 in Mazadaran and Gilan Provinces and media reports claimed that this was the heaviest snowfall for this region in 50 years. Photo from Tehran Times.



A relief map of Iran. Note Rasht’s location below sea level on the southern shore of the Caspian Sea.

The storm also brought an official 7 cm (2.8”) of snow to Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport (city official weather site). Much heavier amounts fell on the hills in the northern portion of the city. These amounts are not particularly uncommon for Tehran.



A photo of Tehran under a blanket of snow on February 3rd taken from Tochai Mountain. Officially the city received 7 cm (2.8”) of snowfall but this photo obviously shows a considerably greater quantity must have fallen in the elevated portions of the city. Photo Getty Images, photographer not identified.

The snowstorm left about 500,000 people without power at one point during the event. The snow was accompanied and followed by below normal temperatures with -6.7°C (19.9•F) in Tehran on February 4th (normal low for the date is 1.2°C/34.2°F) and as low as -23.8°C (-10.8°F) at Ghuchan (elevation 1286 m/4219) near Mashad in northeastern Iran and -23.2°C (-9.8°F) at Saghez (elev. 1493 m/4898’) in Kordestan Province in northwestern Iran. Although chilly, these temperatures are far from Iran’s record coldest temperature of -36.4°C (-33.5°F) set at Kheyrabad, Zanjan Province on January 29, 1997.

It was 42 years ago this same week (February 3-11) in 1972 that the deadliest blizzard known in modern world history struck the lower Caucasus and Iran. Some 4,000 people perished in northwestern, central, and southern Iran where entire villages were wiped out. Reports of snowdrifts over 7.9 meters (26 feet) and level accumulations of 3 meters (10 feet) were reported by the press. The city of Ardakan (near Esfahan) was hardest hit and there were no survivors in the nearby villages of Kakkan and Kumar.

KUDOS: Blog reader BaltimoreBrian for bringing this to my attention.

Christopher C. Burt
Weather Historian

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The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

Thanks! I was curious about the snow measurements. Mehrabad airport is between 3,900 feet and 4,000 feet in the southern side of the city limits and lower than most places in the city. The northern, wealthier neighborhoods are at around 5,500-6,000 and are wetter than Merhabad, although still in the rain shadow of the Alborz mountains. 20" annual precipitation or so at the northernmost parts of Tehran, fading to 12" or so at Merhabad.
On the other Side, in central Europe we've had a winter almost without snow. For example in Slovakia there were some places with no snow through the winter for the first time in nearly 60 last years.
Thanks for the interesting news about those remote areas (in our eyes)! Some places in the southern Alps weren't lazy either in gathering "some" snow due to a constant stream of moist air from the south in the last weeks. German weatherblog provides a photo gallery of the masses of snow in Engadin/Southeastern Switzerland/Alps right now. Click the picture to go there:

Looks like this is where the Winter Olympics should have been held!

Quoting 3. barbamz:
Thanks for the interesting news about those remote areas (in our eyes)! Some places in the southern Alps weren't lazy either in gathering "some" snow due to a constant stream of moist air from the south in the last weeks. German weatherblog provides a photo gallery of the masses of snow in Engadin/Southeastern Switzerland/Alps right now. Click the picture to go there:

There were not 2 meters of snow at sea level but on the northern mountainous slopes.
For Tehran it's another story, very little snow, compared to the historical cold wave of January 2008, one of the strongest in history of Middle East and Central Asia.
There were no particulary low temperatures in Iran, not even comparable to those of January 2008 (when snow also fell at Baghdad) , but as I had explained to you 3 weeks ago, the moisture of the Caspian Sea was the key and brought snow ammounts as high as 95cm at Lankaran Azerbaijan, the highest in half a century.
The greatest coldest wave ever was in January 1964 , which holds the world record for hugest cold wave in longitude, spreading from Greece to Bangladesh CONTINOUSLY AT THE SAME TIME.
Than we had the terrible cold wave of January 1969, which sets national records between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
In 1972 there was a strong cold wave too but not comparable to those of 1964 and 1969, although it was also very intense and widespread with the national record low of Turkey.
In these 3 occasions Tehran had temperatures as low as -15C.
weatherhistorian has created a new entry.
Quoting 5. maxcrc:

There were not 2 meters of snow at sea level but on the northern mountainous slopes.
For Tehran it's another story, very little snow, compared to the historical cold wave of January 2008, one of the strongest in history of Middle East and Central Asia.
There were no particulary low temperatures in Iran, not even comparable to those of January 2008 (when snow also fell at Baghdad) , but as I had explained to you 3 weeks ago, the moisture of the Caspian Sea was the key and brought snow ammounts as high as 95cm at Lankaran Azerbaijan, the highest in half a century.
The greatest coldest wave ever was in January 1964 , which holds the world record for hugest cold wave in longitude, spreading from Greece to Bangladesh CONTINOUSLY AT THE SAME TIME.
Than we had the terrible cold wave of January 1969, which sets national records between Afghanistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
In 1972 there was a strong cold wave too but not comparable to those of 1964 and 1969, although it was also very intense and widespread with the national record low of Turkey.
In these 3 occasions Tehran had temperatures as low as -15C.


your info was not correct. at the end of blizzard at 5th Feb 2014, the snow height in Abkenar town near Anzali lagoon (-18m) was more than 2.5 meters. in Anzali port (-22m) around 90 cm and Ramsar in caspian shore (-22m) around 1 meters. if you have information about lake effect snow, you will realize the reason of this snowfall. this amount of snow is not recorded in any place in this altitude. remind that in Feb 2005, Rasht (-9m) had 2 meters snow in one week.
by the way you can find images of snow of Abkenar town.

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