Snow settles in
Police Chief on Snowstorm: Prepared for the Worst

Jerusalem shuts down after snow in north closes Tzfat, various widespread power outages, expected Tel Aviv floods.

Arutz Sheva Staff , | updated: 12:25

Snowstorm damage in Jerusalem (file)
Snowstorm damage in Jerusalem (file)
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

As a major snowstorm settles in on Israel Wednesday morning, snow has already begun pouring in on the Golan Heights and the Upper Galilee, and the snow and hail has likewise started in Jerusalem and the surrounding hills.

Police have closed Highways 1 and 443 leading into Jerusalem, as they block all entrance routes to the capital. In the town of Shiloh in Samaria the electricity went down due to the storm as it has in various areas near Haifa and Tel Aviv, and transportation in the areas of Kiryat Arba and Efrat in Judea has stopped.

Police Chief Yohanan Danino arrived on Wednesday morning to the traffic department's center for monitoring the storm.

"In the last two days we asked (citizens) not to arrive to Jerusalem today and to avoid traveling to the city. Already now we see much lighter traffic on Highway 1 (into Jerusalem)," said Danino.

"In the coming hours and in accordance with the forecast of the meteorological services, the roads leading to Jerusalem will be closed, including Highway 1 and Highway 443. Our goal is that people won't get stuck in the middle of the road, without the ability to get to the city or to go back," said Danino.

The police chief added "we're waiting now for reports on the first flakes, and the moment we receive them - we'll close the (traffic) routes."

"In recent days we have prepared for the stormy weather together with all the authorities and relevant sources, with the storm of last year and the events that followed it before our eyes. Our goal is to do everything needed so that the snow will be a positive experience for the citizens," said Danino.

"According to the weather forecasts the storm doesn't have to be of the scope and strength of last year, but we aren't taking changes and are preparing for the worst case scenario," he added.

Jerusalem District Police Chief Moshe Edri on Wednesday morning inspected the preparations in the capital city, where as noted police have closed all entrances to Jerusalem. A cold wave is anticipated to come on Friday on into Saturday bringing with it fresh snow, primarily in Jerusalem and the surrounding mountains.

Closing Tzfat

All of the entrances to the northern city of Tzfat (Safed) have been closed to traffic as light snow begins to set in on the city. All roads leading to the Golan Heights have also been closed.

The harsh weather in Tzfat was caught on film:

Likewise the following roads in the north have been closed to traffic heading northwards: Highway 98 from Ramat Magshimim, Highway 87 from Keshet Yehonatan Junction, Highway 91 from Ein Zivun Junction, Highway 978 from Waset Junction, Highway 99 from Sa'ar Waterfall, and the road leading to Beit Jan.

The Tzfat Municipality decided on Wednesday morning not to open schools due to the storm, after the Jerusalem Municipality likewise decided the night before to cancel classes, with Hebrew University listing its campuses would be closed Wednesday and Thursday.

With the closure of roads, Tzfat residents are asked to make their final preparations for the snowstorm as public transportation has closed as well. Snow mixed with hail began falling on the northern neighborhoods of the city in the morning hours.

Police in the coastal district reported that in Haifa's Horev Junction a tree fell, blocking traffic from Freud Street to the university. Haifa police are directing traffic around the area. Flooding in the Krayot area near Haifa has also blocked local roads.

Likewise police centers in the Sharon coastal region have received hundreds of reports of damage caused by the exceedingly strong winds and unseasonably cold air.

Falling trees, falling electricity

Power outages have already begun as well, with 1,200 homes in Petah Tikva left without electricity on Tuesday night. A full 34 trees and four light posts fell overnight in Rishon Letzion due to the strong winds.

In the Binyamina region near Haifa several trees fell, taking down power cables as they went and cutting off electricity for the area. Emergency crews are working to get the region back online. Hail was also reported in the Ashdod area.

The Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv is prepared for closures at certain points due to expected flooding. In nearby Ben-Gurion International Airport, all flights have been transferred to terminal 3 which is usually reserved for international flights, although no take-off or landing delays are anticipated for now.

Power outages were also reported in some neighborhoods of Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan due to the stormy weather.

In Tel Aviv some of the roofing at the Hagana Train Station collapse, with Israel Hatzalah reporting that none were injured in the incident. The organization posted pictures from the site to its Twitter feed (those unable to see the embedded post should click here).

Police have opened a national information center to field calls by residents relating to the storm and traffic. The center's phone number is 1-700-705-100.


Police spokesperson unit, Ilan Hadar, Shai Cohen