Daily Israel Report

Winter Storm Turns Israel into Ski Resort

Israel, known for its beaches and hot weather, has become a ski resort in the Golan - but it was closed Wednesday due to a heavy snowstorm.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 2/1/2012, 12:10 PM

Snow blankets Hermon in Golan Heights
Snow blankets Hermon in Golan Heights
Silviya/Tapuz weather forum

Several feet of snow have blanketed the Hermon ski resort on the Golan Heights – but it was closed Wednesday due to a heavy storm.

Nearly six feet of the white stuff has piled up on the upper slopes and up to three feet on the slower slopes, where rain fell Wednesday morning before turning to snow.

Thousands of Israelis have been fleeing the rainy center of the country to be in the snow, which is rarely seen in most other areas in Israel. A misjudgment on the part of the ski resort last week left frustrated visitors trapped during a heavy snowstorm, and IDF snowplows cleared the roads for visitors to leave.

In the rest of the country, rain returned Tuesday night to all of the country as far south as the Negev, but most of the heavy precipitation was in the central and northern regions by mid-morning. More than two inches of rain drenched metropolitan Tel Aviv, and gale force winds ripped through hilly areas.

The forecast calls for the rain and snow to end by Thursday morning, followed by a warming trend that should dry out Israel for several days. More rain is predicted for next Wednesday, but it is not yet clear how much will fall.

Despite the electricity outages and discomfort from the wettest January on record in terms of the number of days of precipitation, Israelis are welcoming every drop.

The Kinneret continues to rise and before the end of the week will rise past the upper red line,” the level at which ecological damage may occur.

The lake still is lacking 4 meters before dams would have to be opened to prevent flooding of farmland and the beachside city of Tiberias. The last time the dam was opened was in the winter of 1992-3.

Runoff from the hills and more rain in February that is on the long-range radar screen might add another meter to the Kinneret before summer and leave the lake in its best shape since three years ago.