Jerusalem Sees First Snow in Four Years as Winter Storm Lashes Israel

Schools in Jerusalem will be closed early on Wednesday; snow expected in northern Israel as well

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A man walks in Jerusalem on January 16, 2019.
A man walks in Jerusalem on January 16, 2019.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

A winter storm hit Israel on Wednesday, bringing snow to Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and significant amounts of rain and wind in other parts of the country. 

In light of the forecast, schools in Jerusalem, as well as the Hebrew University, closed early. 

The Jerusalem municipality has some 150 snowplows and bulldozers on alert, and 25 tons of salt to prevent slippery roads.

A storm approaches the Israeli shoreline, January 2019.Credit: \ Ilan Assayag
Rescuing a driver whose car broke down in the flooding Hilazon StreetCredit: Fire Service and Rescue, Northern District

Israel Railways said trains into Jerusalem would operate on an expedited schedule on Wednesday evening. CityPass, operating the city's light rail system, said it would be foreced to halt services should more than five centimeters of snow pile up on the streets.

The police is expected to shut major highways leading into Jerusalem in the event of major snowfall, as it did in recent years, in a change of policy after a December 2013 storm that left thousands of drivers stranded for hours on the roads surrounding the city. 

Temperatures are expected to rise on Thursday as the storm moves away, with another rise on Friday. Saturday will be partly cloudy.

Snow has been piling up on Mount Hermon, the highest point in Israel, as torrential rain intermittently pounded the north and center Monday. A short section of Israel's north-south highway, Route 90, was closed in the morning to traffic in both directions between the Tiberias hot springs and the city of Tiberias itself because of flooding.

The snow on the Hermon ski site has reached about 15 centimeters in depth so far. Flooding was also reported in the northern towns of Sakhnin and Tamra, and rescuers saved two drivers whose cars broke down in Hilazon Stream.

The precipitation broke a dust haze coating the center and north, but the skies remain dusty in  the south as of Monday morning. The Ministry of Environmental Affairs warned on Sunday about the dust storm, which originated in the Sahara

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