Snow, Rain, Winter Winds Whipping Israel
Snow, rain, sleet, hail, gale force winds – you name it – it was all whipping Israel in various sections of the country on Thursday as major winter weather went barnstorming through the country.
Many Ethiopian Jews and other new immigrants unfamiliar with cold-weather phenomena such as snow, sleet and hail were seen hopping on buses and heading north to higher ground for a look at the white stuff. But some also got into their cars to go have a closer look -- possibly even endangering their lives, because cars in Israel are not fitted out with snow tires, chains and other winter weather necessities.
Snow storms are likely to come up quickly in areas where there are higher elevations, especially on Mount Hermon, in the Golan Heights and in the Galilee, and roads get blocked easily. Motorists should be alert and prepared with a backup plan, to avoid being trapped on any narrow mountain roads, authorities advised.
Rain and wind was the order of the day along the coast and in much of the center of the country. Towards the south and in the lower areas of the Judean and Negev Deserts, bare sprinkles of rain coated the leaves and winds whipped the bushes and trees, sending sand and dust flying through the air.
In the higher elevations, a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain came down in sheets, mostly in areas above 700 meters and in the mountainous regions in central Israel above 850 meters as well as Jerusalem. Forecasters said there might be a few flakes even at elevations of 550 to 600 meters as well, to thrill the children, but it is more likely that rain will continue to fall off and on throughout the day. Heavier snow and sleet is predicted at the same elevation for Friday.
Forecasters did not predict a heavy accumulation for Jerusalem, at least during the day on Thursday. But by Friday, people in the capital might see a total of perhaps five to ten centimeters (two to four inches) of the white stuff.
Starting Thursday night, a second wave of snow is predicted to begin falling, and is expected to continue through Friday afternoon in Israel's first major national snowstorm in a decade.
Meteorologists at the Tapuz national weather station advised Israelis to watch for updates on the weather, because “the data could change, even suddenly.”
More snow is expected on Mount Hermon, and will gradually spread throughout the northern Golan Heights, in elevations around the 950 – 1000 meter ranges.
Temperatures are also expected to drop significantly towards the end of the day.