Wheel-chaired man braves cold rain in J
Wheel-chaired man braves cold rain in JIsrael news photo: Flash 90

A wicked winter storm swooped down on almost all of Israel Sunday, dumping much needed rain – and some snow and hail. The Hermon was snowed in.

Snow was recorded in the highest points of Gush Etzion and the southern Hevron Hills, but there was no accumulation as of late afternoon, when the storm was near its peak. A slight drop in temperatures during the evening could change the precipitation to snow in lower areas, including Jerusalem.

Savage winds knocked out electricity in some areas.

More than four inches of snow fell on the lower slopes of the Hermon ski report in two hours, trapping cars that had arrived in the early morning after the operators of the ski slopes decided to open up the area to visitors.

Snow plows cleared the road so that motorists could drive away, but snow quickly covered the roads again. Accumulations in the northern Golan Heights forced schools to close down, and students were sent home.

The rain was welcome news for the country, which so far is in the first winter in eight years that might conclude with at least average rainfall, except for the south.

Sunday’s storm reached the parched northern Negev and south of Be’er Sheva, which so far has received less than one-third of the usual amount of precipitation for this time of year.

All other areas, from Jerusalem to the northern border have enjoyed nearly 100 percent or more of the average rainfall for mid-winter.

The level of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) continues to crawl upward but still lacks 4.5 meters of water before dams would have to be opened to prevent flooding of the lakeside city of Tiberias

The rain will end during the night, except for light precipitation in the north on Monday morning, giving way to partly cloudy skies and a warming trend that will continue through Wednesday.

The longer-range forecast, which always is less accurate due to the rapid-changing patterns of weather systems moving towards Israel, calls for rain to fall in the northern and central regions on Thursday, turning heavy at night.

The outlook or Friday and the Sabbath is for a sharp drop in temperatures and heavy rains, with more snow on the Hermon. It is too early to predict whether snow will fall again in hills of Judea and Samaria.