Jerusalem Takes Brunt of Winter Storm as Israel Braces for Snow

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Snow in northern Israel on Jan. 24, 2016.
Snow in northern Israel on Jan. 24, 2016.Credit: Gil Eliahu

Sunday was stormy and rainy in most of the country; according to the Meteo-Tech forecasting service the most rain (38 millimeters) fell in Jerusalem, with Kiryat Gat close behind with 36 mm, followed by Sderot with 34.

By contrast, the northern mountains and the Kinneret basin got only 10-20 mm of rain, while Tel Aviv got nine millimeters. The Water Authority said Lake Kinneret rose by only half a centimeter during this system so far, and it is concerned that it will get relatively little water for the third winter in a row.

Monday some 20 centimeters of snow fell on Mount Hermon and the ski site was closed to visitors. Last night snow was falling in the northern Golan Heights as well.

Jerusalem spent much of Sunday gearing up for possible snowfall overnight and Monday. The Jerusalem Police said they were working with the municipality, the rescue service, the Israel Electric Corporation and the army, and would beef up its forces in the capital if necessary. Drivers who get stuck in snow are instructed by police to call 100 and wait near their cars.

Citipass, the company that operates Jerusalem’s light rail, called on drivers not to abandon their cars on the rail tracks, as has happened in the past. The company said the rail was operable in accumulations of up to five centimeters of snow, but that service would stop if the snow was heavier than that. Various events in the capital to mark Tu Bishvat, the Jewish Arbor Day, which falls on Monday, were canceled due to the weather.

The Betar Illit municipality announced that transport of pupils to special education programs in Jerusalem and Gush Etzion would be returning the children at noon Monday, for fear the roads would be closed. Otherwise, special education programs in the Jerusalem area will be open as usual. Decisions on school closing in the Golan Heights are to be made early Monday morning.

A 26-year-old Tiberias woman suffered burns to her legs Sunday night when a heater in her home caught fire. She was taken to Poriya Hospital with light-to-moderate injuries.

The cold weather will continue Monday, with temperatures dropping further overnight and into Tuesday. Snow is expected in the north, as well as in the central mountains and Jerusalem. By Wednesday the weather system will weaken but it will still be very cold.

There will be periodic showers Monday, particularly in the central hills and the southern coastal region. Light snow is expected in the center’s elevated regions. By nightfall it will be colder, increasing the chances of snow in Jerusalem, where some accumulation is expected.

Showers will continue Tuesday and temperatures will remain low. Temperatures will reach freezing at night, and in Safed and the Golan Heights temperatures are expected to dip below freezing. Snow could still fall at elevations of over 700 meters. There may also be snow in the northern Negev.

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