In the Eye of the Storm: Jerusalem Snowed In

For the first time this year, snow fell in Jerusalem, the Galilee & Judea/Samaria overnight. Schools and offices are closed; more snow expected.

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Hillel Fendel,

Snow in Ofrah
Snow in Ofrah
Yoav Finkel

For the first time this year, snow fell in Jerusalem, the Galilee and Judea/Samaria overnight.  Many schools and offices are closed, and the snowfall is expected to resume - where it did not stop - towards Wednesday evening.  According to Israel's Meteorological Service, light snow is forecast for Thursday morning, and Friday is expected to be precipitation-free.

Schools in Jerusalem are closed due to the heavy snowfall, and in Tzfat, classes will end early.  Snow-removing vehicles cleared many main arteries in the capital, but motorists have followed the municipality's request and are largely staying off the roads.  This, due to the slippery and freezing conditions, combined with continued rain/snow precipitation.  Public transportation has also been suspended, though is expected to resume gradually throughout the late morning.  Courts in the city and university classes were also closed. 

One event that will apparently not be affected is the release of the Winograd Report, which is still expected to take place at 6 PM in the Binyanei HaUmah Convention Center in the capital, as has been planned for a number of weeks.

Magen David Adom (MDA) crews have treated 11 people in Jerusalem who broke limbs while slipping on frozen-over sidewalks; five women in labor were evacuated to local hospitals.  A police cruiser overturned early Wednesday morning in the city, causing lightly injuries to a teenaged girl who was evacuated to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus.  The MDA has bolstered its staff and readiness in many areas of the country.

A snowman competition will take place in Sacher Park in Jerusalem in the afternoon.  The judges committee will be headed by Mayor Uri Lupoliansky, and judging will begin at 3 PM.

The new overpass at the main entrance to Jerusalem, bulit to carry the light rail train that is to be activated in the capital by 2010, was cleared of heavy ice buildups this morning.  Traffic in the area was halted for a while.

Schools in the Binyamin region, north of Jerusalem, are closed as well.  This includes Ofrah, Beit El, Psagot, Kokhav Yaakov, Tel Tzion, Maaleh Levonah, Eli, Shilo, Shvut Rachel, and Hareshah. The main Highway 60 from Jerusalem northward to Shilo, with many curves and hilly sections, is closed to traffic; snow there has reached heights of up to 20 centimeters (8 inches).

Further north in the Shomron, snow did not pile up, but a thin sheet of ice that has formed on the roads led to the closing of many schools there as well.  Affected communities include Elon Moreh, Brachah, Yitzhar and Itamar.

South of Jerusalem, snow has accumulated on the roads and is being cleared away as of late Wednesday morning.  Schools in most of Gush Etzion and south of Kiryat Arba-Hevron are closed, as are some roads. The same is true in the northern Golan Heights, while in the Upper Galilee, schools opened late.

A welcome half-meter of snow (20 inches) has accumulated so far on Mt. Hermon, Israel's ski site. The slopes are expected to be opened to the public on Friday. 

Residents in many areas were advised to leave the water running on "slow drip" to help prevent solar plates from freezing and bursting.