Israel Prepares for ‘Mini-Superstorm’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Snow on Jerusalem rooftops, February 20, 2015. Photo by Sliman Khader/Flash90
Snow on Yerushalayim rooftops, Feb. 20, 2015. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)

While the East Coast of the U.S. was getting ready to dig out from its epic snowfall, Israel was getting ready for its own snow and ice storm – albeit on a much smaller scale. Nevertheless, the Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) announced Sunday that it was all ready for the major storm, which is set to begin Sunday evening and continue through Wednesday.

Forecasters had expected precipitation to begin in earnest Shabbos afternoon, and while there was a great deal of rain in many parts of the country, it was just the periphery of the winter storm system that was hulking down on the region. The main event is yet to come, and the 12-hour or so delay, said forecasters, has given the atmosphere enough time to get even colder – meaning that more snow is likely in more places at some point during the week.

The Israel Meteorological Service issued a winter storm warning Motzoei Shabbos. Snow will almost certainly fall in moderate to heavy amounts on the moutaintops of the Golan and Galilee, as well as in Gush Etzion and in communities in the Binyamin region, north of Yerushalayim. The city itself is likely to see at least some snow, but it may be overshadowed by freezing rain. In any event, roads are expected to be icy. Police are preparing plans to close roads into and out of the city if necessary.

In addition to the rain, gale force winds are expected in many regions, and in areas of the south where there will be less precipitation, a heavy dust storm is likely. To top it all off, the precipitation – rain or snow – is likely to be accompanied by thunder and/or lightning.

The IEC said that it had moved “portable generating stations” into areas of the country where power outages have been a problem in the past during such winter storms. The company said that it is ready for whatever may happen, but wished to emphasize that there is “no such thing as zero chance of complications. We ask that the public remain patient if any problems develop, as crews will be on duty and dispatched to deal with them as soon as is humanly possible.”