A major winter storm was expected to hit the region Tuesday evening and to last throughout the weekend, bringing rain, high winds and high-altitude snow. Emergency services across the country were put on high alert ahead of the storm’s arrival.

Tuesday started clear or partly cloudy and unseasonably cold, but high winds and rain were set to begin along the coast in the evening, followed by showers, thunderstorms, high winds and snow on Mount Hermon, the Israel Meteorological Service reported Tuesday morning.

“Rough seas” and low-lying flood warnings are predicted for Wednesday, which is to see continued winds and snow in the Golan Heights and high Galilee areas, including Safed.

Snowfall in those areas is expected to continue Thursday and is likely to spread to central high-altitude locations, including Jerusalem, as well as the northern Negev mountains. The central and southern areas could see snow throughout Friday as well.

Snow at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, on January 9, 2013. (photo credit: Louis Fisher/Flash90)

Snow at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, on January 9, 2013. (photo credit: Louis Fisher/Flash90)

Emergency and disaster services across the country were on high alert Tuesday morning in preparation for the multi-day event, while hospital emergency rooms warned of a potential disaster the coming winter could bring, given over-burdened staff and lack of hospital beds, according to a Yedioth Ahronoth report on Tuesday. 

“We are in a state of perpetual war ,” Pini Halpern, chief of emergency medicine at Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center, told the paper.

Government authorities issued safety warnings ahead of the storm, and municipalities across the country were gearing up for its arrival, including preparing snow plows in Jerusalem and Safed.

Tel Aviv and other cities prepared their drainage systems and readied for high coastal winds.

Last January, a massive rain storm flooded the center of the country, bringing Ayalon Highway in Tel Aviv to a halt, disrupting train services and closing roads leading in and out of central Israel.