Snow Starts Falling in Jerusalem

LIVE BLOG: Biggest Winter Storm in Decade Slams Israel

Snow envelops northern Israel, roads close due to ice; police close Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway; hundreds of people rescued from their homes after massive floods.

As Israel battled its stormiest winter in a decade, cities across the country found themselves nearly paralyzed. Major highways closed, power outages were reported, the entrance to Tel Aviv was all but blocked, and residents of some neighborhoods awaited possible word of evacuation.

The Ayalon River near Tel Aviv, usually a dry bed, flooded beyond capacity as storms overtook central Israel overnight Tuesday. The nearby Ayalon Highway was closed between Glilot Junction and Hashalom Street in both directions over the course of the morning, opening up from Hahalakha Junction northbound in the afternoon. Highway 1 was closed between Shapirim and Kibbutz Galuyot junctions in the early afternoon, and traffic was halted or congested across Tel Aviv through the morning and afternoon hours. The Israel Police has asked drivers to stay out of central Tel Aviv, and to avoid driving if possible.

Due to the weather, Israel’s Airport Authority offers free bus service to Tel Aviv.

8:02 A.M. Route 443 closed to traffic entering Jersualem.

7:00 A.M. Jerusalem Municipality announces that school has been cancelled across the city. Meanwhile, Route 1 has been closed again, and Egged bus company announced it has cancelled buses to Jerusalem. According to Army Radio, the route is expected to reopen by about 9 A.M. Jerusalem residents are requested to avoid driving private vehicles, due to the risk of slipping.

6:57 A.M. Throughout the night, some 27 damaged vehicles were removed from Route 1.

01:15 A.M. Route 1 between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem opens to traffic after being closed earlier due to weather conditions.

10:30 P.M. Storm causes some 25,000 Israeli homes to be cut off from power.

9:47 P.M. Police closes Route 1 (Tel Aviv – Jerusalem highway) due to heavy snow.

9:08 P.M. Schools will be closed on Thursday in the Druze villages of Ein Kinya, Mas'ada, Buq'ata, Majdal Shams and Ghajar. In the Upper Galilee, schools will be closed in kibbutz Sasa, Sefad, Beit Jann, Horfeish, Merom Golan and Ma'alot. In the West Bank, school will be closed in Alon Moreh, Itamar and Yitzhar. As for Jerusalem and other schools around the country a decision will be made in the morning.

8:57 P.M. Traffic police warns drivers that due to low temperatures ice is forming on the southern section of Highway 6, between Kiryat Gat and Beit Kama. Police advises drivers to drive carefully.

8:30 P.M. Snow continues to gather in Jerusalem. Storm expected to intensify overnight. Snowstorm hits Sefad, all roads to the city are blocked. Emergency medical services are said to be equipped with snow chains. 

8:20 P.M. Sefad municipality says schools will be closed on Thursday due to the stormy weather.

7:54 P.M. Israel Police is considering to close Tel Aviv – Jerusalem highway due to heavy snow in Israel's capital.

7:27 P.M. Snow begins to fall in Kfar Vradim in Galilee. Sections of route 98 on the Golan Heights are blocked between Alonei Habashan and Keshet and between Buq'ata and Mas'ada.

7:00 P.M. Thursday will bring more rain throughout most of the country and snow is expected to continue to gather on Israel's northern and central hills. Rain will die down in the afternoon, but temperatures will remain low. Winds are expected to reach 20-40 kph.

6:30 P.M. Snow begins to fall in Nazareth Illit.

6:10 P.M. 26 people were injured in two traffic accidents in the Upper Galilee.

5:50 P.M. Shlomo Buchbut, the chairman of the Union of Local Authorities and mayor of Ma'alot-Tarshiha asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the state aid storm-affected authorities. Buchbut estimated damage caused by the storm at $1 billion.

5:32 P.M. Israel Police closed sections of route 99, 98, 90 and 804 in Israel's north. In the south, police blocked a section of route 90 near the Dead Sea, a section of route 40 near Paran and route 234 near Tze'elim.

4:50 P.M. Train service disrupted between Tel Aviv and Netanya after tree falls on tracks.

4:40 P.M. Road to mount Gerizim in Samaria blocked due to heavy snow.

3:55 P.M. Israel's manufacturers association estimates the damage to the business sector at NIS 300 million.

3:41 P.M. Three people were injured in Rishon Letzion due to the stormy weather. Two were wounded after a tree, knocked down by the strong winds, hit a car. A 39-year-old woman was mildly injured after was hit by construction debris.

3:17 P.M. Eleven high school students were slightly wounded and one man suffered moderate wounds in a traffic accident in the Galilee. Due to the accudent, police closed route 889.

2:21 P.M. Hail in Tel Aviv

12:51 P.M. Egypt reports it stopped operations in several of its ports, including Alexandria, due to severe weather conditions. Ten fishermen are missing after their boat turned over off its Western coast

12:06 P.M. A 30-year old man is being treated for hypothermia in Ashdod

11:01 A.M. Snow starts falling in Jerusalem, Haifa

10:38 A.M. Palestinian rescue workers report that two women were found dead in Tul Karm due to flooding. The bodies of Hana Samir and Samari Samach were found Wednesday morning after the two were reported missing since Tuesday evening.

According to Antaba Mayor Salah Anjib, the women were driving in a car that was swept away in the flooding, while en route from Tul Karm to Nablus. The driver was rescued from the car with light injuries and is now hospitalized.

10:22 A.M. Jerusalem courts to operate in accordance with emergency guidelines due to storm

10:08 A.M. Kiryat Arba students sent home due to fear of snow accumulating on roads

9:32 A.M. Snow falling in Gush Etzion area

9:12 A.M. Seven children rescued from car caught in flooding in Jerusalem

9:01 A.M. Kinneret water level up 16 cm since Tuesday

8:42 A.M. Police: Most central thoroughfares are open. Highway 90 closed to traffic in both directions from Dead Sea to Ein Gedi due to flooding

8:31 A.M. Public asked not to go near the Yarkon River area, including the bike and pedestrian paths, due to risk of trees and branches collapsing.

8:14 A.M. Electricty returns to most Hedera homes

7:49 A.M. Tel Aviv's Haganah and Central railway stations remain closed.

7:39 A.M. Snow on the lower part of Mount Hermon reaches one meter

7:35 A.M. Snow falls in the Galilee: Schools will be partially operating

7:30 A.M. 2,500 homes in Hedera are still without electricity

7: 26 A.M. Due to the weather, school in Tzfat will be closed Wednesday

7:15 A.M. Snow expected to fall in Jerusalem Wednesday morning

6:14 A.M. Jerusalem Municipality requests of the city's residents to avoid driving vehicles after 1:00 P.M. Wednesday, in light of expected snowfall.

6:03 A.M. In light of the stormy weather, school for Wednesday has been cancelled in various places in the Golan and Shomron regional councils. In addition, school in various neighborhoods of Hadera has been canceled due to the power outage. School in Jerusalem will end on Wednesday at 12:00 P.M. The Education Ministry has opened a hotline on 02-6222211.

3:15 A.M. IEC working to restore electricity to Hadera. As a result of substation ceasing to operate, electricity also cuts out in Gan Shmuel, Baqa al-Gharbiyye, Maanit, Pardes Hanna and nearby towns.

2:15 A.M. Electricity cuts out in Hadera's industrial area and neighboring houses due to flooding of substation. Israel Electric Corp. says blackout could last hours.

1:37 A.M. Extent of damage in Bat Hefer is still unknown and it is unclear whether there are missing persons. Naval commandos of the IDF and ZAKA have entered the heart of the flood. In some areas, rain water levels have reportedly reached meters high, completely engulfing cars parked on the street.

1:04 A.M. Israel Meteorological Service says Israel hasn't seen a storm of this magnitude since February 2003 in terms of both rainfall and the number of days of heavy rain. Haifa, for instance, has received as much rain as it normally sees in an entire winter, while the north has received about 90 percent of its allotment for a typical winter. Haifa also led the country in wind speeds, with gusts up to 124 kph.