Jerusalem in the snow (Olivier Fitoussi)
Jerusalem in the snow, last January. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
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Gideon Sharon
President Shimon Peres putting the finishing touches on a snowman last winter. Photo by Gideon Sharon

Be prepared, as the Boy Scouts say: Snowstorms are expected on the hilltops of northern Israel starting Wednesday. That doesn't just mean Mount Hermon, Israel's famous (and only) ski site: all areas with somewhat high elevation could be affected, including for instance Safed.

Local authorities in the Galilee and Golan Heights say they are preparing for the snow, including to have heavy machinery on alert to help drivers who get stuck in drifts.

That may happen rather more than one expects: snow is quite the attraction in Israel and you can expect the narrow highways of the north to get quite congested with families taking the kiddies to experience it.

It bears mention that up north, major highways have two lanes in either direction, but slightly less central ones have exactly one lane in either direction. You know what that means – one slow truck and you're stuck crawling at its rear, until you can safely overtake.

As many Israelis are not entirely accustomed to driving in snowy conditions, they may decide to take the trip at their sweet leisure. In other words, if deciding to rent a car and experience the Golan in the snow – and it is gorgeous – prepare to be patient. A thermos of hot beverage isn't a bad idea – it's never a bad idea - but there are plenty of gas stations with convenience stores all over the north, so it isn't a must.

If you want to spend the night up north, it's important to book a place to stay in advance. The Galilee and Golan are favorite domestic tourism spots, hotels and "zimmerim" (from row-house guest rooms to log cabins, that sort of thing) tend to be fully booked, especially when the snow arrives. Don't expect to find a bargain: typically a single night will cost hundreds of shekels per room, passing a thousand in the case of the fancier zimmerim.

Also, take the gear you need – umbrella, boots, a change of socks. You can buy all these things in the towns up north, but when the rain and snow start to fall, umbrella prices tend to mysteriously rise.

Dr. Hussein Amar, director of the emergency room at the city's Rebecca Sieff Hospital, begs to urge that drivers be careful: “Such weather increases the risk of road accidents because of loss of control over the car."