Some had started praying for rain. Others were thinking about migrating. The mountains towering over the city were bare and brown, deprived of their usual winter dusting of snow.
“God is always testing people with various kinds of disasters,” Ayatollah Reza Ostadi, a member of the Supreme Council of Seminaries, said in a sermon on Jan. 19 in the holy city of Qom. “We ask God’s forgiveness for our sins through rain prayers and entreat him to send us his blessing.”
But then prayers — and hopes, for the many in Tehran who are not religious — were answered. A blizzard that started Saturday evening descended on Iran, blanketing large parts of the country and taking everyone by surprise.
Suddenly, the situation had changed: Schools in many parts of the country were closed; most people could not go to work; the police were calling the situation “critical.”