Heavy Snow in Yerushalayim, North as Storm Moves in

YERUSHALAYIM (Hamodia Staff) —
Snow falling in Majdal Shams, the Golan Heights, on Thursday. (Basal Awidat/Flash90)
Snow falling in Majdal Shams, the Golan Heights, on Thursday. (Basal Awidat/Flash90)
People walk in the rain near Damascus Gate in Yerushalayim’s Old City on Thursday. (REUTERS/Ammar Awad)
People walk in the rain near Damascus Gate in Yerushalayim’s Old City on Thursday. (REUTERS/Ammar Awad)

Winter made a comeback on Thursday as a storm front swept the country, bringing snow, rain, strong winds and freezing temperatures.

For several days the weather service has been forecasting heavy snow, municipalities have been readying the snowplows, and on Thursday afternoon the first flurry arrived in Yerushalayim. By mid-evening, it was snowing heavily and accumulations of as much as 20 inches were expected overnight.

The Yerushalayim municipality cancelled school on Friday, as did Maalei Adumim, Telstone, Kiryat Arba and Givat Zeev. Some schools in the Upper Galil, including Tzfas, announced closings as well.

The authorities warned people to prepare: “Buy any basic goods you may need by Wednesday night, including enough food and water for a few days,” the statement read. “Purchase any medical supplies, such as medication, oxygen tanks, etc.”

The public was also advised to “avoid traveling on local roads during the storm, except in emergencies, and as instructed.”

The last time a big snow storm had been predicted, about three weeks ago, the capital got little more than a dusting of snow. But this time, the meteorologists were sounding more certain. Significant amounts were expected to pile up in the northern and central regions at high elevations. Several roadways were closed in the north as snow began to fall on Thursday. Intermittent heavy rain fell around the country during the day.

The police, hospital emergency rooms, the Israel Electric Corporation, the water authority, emergency rescue and fire units were all on standby.

Prime Minister Netanyahu met with security officials at the command center at Border Police Headquarters in Lod.

“Instructions are, first of all, to save lives, before anything else, to prevent loss of life. The second instruction is — to the best of our ability — to see to the orderly supply of electricity,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

Among those in attendance were Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israel Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino, Fire Service Commissioner Shahar Ayalon, GOC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Eyal Eisenberg, Prison Service Commissioner Aharon Franco, MDA Director General Eli Binn, Israel Electric Corp. Director General Eli Glickman and representatives from the relevant government ministries.

While numerous bus routes were canceled, Israel Railways scheduled additional trains  from the Yerushalayim and Beit Shemesh stations, operating one train hourly from 12 p.m. to midnight on Thursday and continuing into Friday, with room for 850 passengers. The trains are the equivalent of about 17 buses, the company said.

The forecast calls for the snow to taper off by Leil Shabbos. Reduced winds and rainfall were forecasted for Shabbos, and milder weather on Sunday.

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