In today's headlines:‏ תג בכותרות

After sandstorm, Israel braces for mega snowstorm

Days after major sandstorm, Israel due for first snowstorm of the year, with gale-force winds, hail, thunder; generators deployed.

Ari Yashar,

Jerusalem in snow (file)
Jerusalem in snow (file)
Mendy Hechtman/Flash 90

Israel is still recovering from the major sandstorm that hit on Monday, bringing with it dust particulates and air pollution for at least two days, but now the country is facing a new storm replete with snow, thunder, howling winds and all the rest of the bells and whistles.

The storm is to start building on Saturday morning, with local rain anticipated from the north of the country to the northern Negev, even as temperatures drop. Thunderstorms are predicted, and there are flood warnings in the Judean Desert and Dead Sea region, with a possibility of snow on Mount Hermon, Israel's only ski site.

Then on Sunday things will take a turn for the worse, as gale-force winds of 60 kilometers per hour (37 mph) with bursts of 90 kilometers per hour (56 mph) beat down on Israel, and the sea will roil in waves up to eight meters (26 feet) in height.

Snow is to come cascading down on Mount Hermon, the Golan Heights, as well as the mountainous regions in the center of the country, such as in Samaria and the Hevron region. Light snow is also possible in Jerusalem.

A cold wave of air from Russia apparently is the culprit behind Sunday's stormy fluctuations, and will bring with it hail and thunderstorms in addition to rains from the north to the Negev.

Temperatures in Tzfat (Safed) in the north are to drop as low as 3° C (37° F), Jerusalem 4° C (39° F), while the coast will remain slightly warmer, as Haifa and Tel Aviv are predicted to hit a maximum temperature of 12° C (53° F).

Then on Monday the rains will continue to fall, although they will be focused more on the center of the country and the south. The winds will die down gradually, although the temperature will remain bitingly cold. Snow may fall, mainly on the peaks in the mountainous regions, with sleet possibly coming down on Jerusalem.

Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) has been gearing up for the storm by placing additional support on its 103 phone hotline, where citizens can report downed electric wires and get information.

IEC teams are preparing for rapid deployment nationwide, and likewise generators have been placed in Tzfat, the Golan Heights and Jerusalem in anticipation of potential power outages. The IEC has in recent weeks been working to cut back trees from power lines.