Netanyahu warns storm is not over; 19,000 lose power
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Liveblog: Blizzard of 2015 (January 7; closed)

Netanyahu warns storm is not over; 19,000 lose power

School canceled for Thursday in West Bank, around Jerusalem; 13-year-old killed in car accident on icy road

Haviv Rettig Gur is The Times of Israel's senior analyst.

  • People seen walking by the walls of Jerusalem's Old City Walls as snow begins to fall, Wednesday, January 7, 2015 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
    People seen walking by the walls of Jerusalem's Old City Walls as snow begins to fall, Wednesday, January 7, 2015 (photo credit: Miriam Alster/FLASH90)
  • A snowscape in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, Wednesday, January 7, 2015 (photo credit: Basal Awidat/FLASH90)
    A snowscape in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, Wednesday, January 7, 2015 (photo credit: Basal Awidat/FLASH90)
  • A backhoe plows a snow-covered road in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, Wednesday, January 7, 2015 (photo credit: Basal Awidat/FLASH90)
    A backhoe plows a snow-covered road in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, Wednesday, January 7, 2015 (photo credit: Basal Awidat/FLASH90)
  • A person watches as waves crash on the Mediterranean sea near the port of Haifa, northern Israel, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015 (photo credit: AP/Ariel Schalit)
    A person watches as waves crash on the Mediterranean sea near the port of Haifa, northern Israel, Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2015 (photo credit: AP/Ariel Schalit)
  • A Bedouin boy walks with a dry bush during a sandstorm in Wadi Na'am, an unrecognized Bedouin village, in the Northern Negev desert near Beersheva, January 6, 2015 (photo credit: AFP/MENAHEM KAHANA)
    A Bedouin boy walks with a dry bush during a sandstorm in Wadi Na'am, an unrecognized Bedouin village, in the Northern Negev desert near Beersheva, January 6, 2015 (photo credit: AFP/MENAHEM KAHANA)
  • Snow-covered tanks from the IDF's 401 armed brigade, in Northern Israel on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/FLASH90)
    Snow-covered tanks from the IDF's 401 armed brigade, in Northern Israel on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson/FLASH90)
  • A man sprints along Jerusalem's Jaffa Road on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    A man sprints along Jerusalem's Jaffa Road on Wednesday, January 7, 2015 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Palestinian boys watch sea gulls fly during a storm in the Al-Shatee refugee camp in Gaza City on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 (photo credit: AFP/MOHAMMED ABED)
    Palestinian boys watch sea gulls fly during a storm in the Al-Shatee refugee camp in Gaza City on Tuesday, January 6, 2015 (photo credit: AFP/MOHAMMED ABED)

Heavy rains and high winds swept Israel Tuesday night and through Wednesday as a major winter storm descended upon the country. Hail and snow were reported in the north from early Wednesday, and spread to elevated peaks in the center of the country by mid-morning, with brief power outages reported in various parts of the country. Despite predictions of heavy snowfall in the capital, Jerusalem saw only a sporadic sprinkle, with more expected overnight Wednesday-Thursday. School was canceled in the Golan Heights, West Bank, and around Jerusalem for Thursday due to inclement weather. A 13-year-old was killed in a car accident on an icy road after a bus driver lost control and slammed into a nearby vehicle, and several people were treated for various weather-related injuries, including hypothermia. The Times of Israel liveblogged the weather through Wednesday here.

Wind damage reported as cities brace for snow

Bearing violent winds, intense rain and hail, a severe winter storm descended on Israel overnight Tuesday and into Wednesday. Blackouts are reported in major cities as trees – and in Netanya, parts of a building under construction – are blown about in the storm winds.

The initial damage comes from strong winds. In Petah Tikva a tree falls on a bus carrying passengers. No one is hurt. Limited blackouts are reported in parts of Haifa, Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva, Acre, Netanya and some Galilee towns, as well as in Modi’in.

Some 30 cm (1 ft) of snow is expected to fall Jerusalem starting in the afternoon. Snow has already been falling in the Golan Heights and Upper Galilee since last night.

The big news for parents (and even more so for kids): schools, kindergartens and day cares are closed throughout the mountainous regions of the country, especially in the Galilee and Jerusalem areas.

It’s going to be an interesting few days, as the Chinese saying goes.

Several West Bank settlements lose power

The West Bank settlements of Itamar, Elon Moreh, Har Bracha, Kiryat Netafim and Yitzhar lose power.

A downed power line is being blamed for the blackout.

Settlements have been instructed to turn on their on-site generators.

Parts of Netanya building under construction fly in storm winds

Netanya Police have shut down sections of Ben Gurion Street after parts of a building under construction in the area break free in the strong crosswinds and fall onto a nearby road.

Emergency forces are on hand.

There are no reports of injuries.

Massive Netanya billboard collapses into road

Wind damage seems to be concentrating in the coastal city of Netanya.

A 50-ton billboard has crashed into the street. Police say they have disconnected it from the power grid, and emergency services are working to remove it.

There are no reported injuries.

‘Safed is under siege’

The historic mountaintop city of Safed in the Galilee region is closed to traffic, both from the outside and within the city’s limits.

Public transportation is completely shut down, and police have closed the winding mountain roads that lead in and out of the city, leading to media headlines calling the city “besieged.”

A reminder: Jerusalem is expected to receive the same treatment starting at 10 a.m. (in just over an hour), when police will close the mountain highways leading into the capital.

Freezing temperatures expected in mountains

Alongside the dramatic photographs and dire warnings, here are some hard numbers from the weather reports showing freezing temperatures expected in mountainous Jerusalem and Safed, but warmer temperatures along the coast and in the south.

Thunderstorms and rains are expected throughout the country, with snow in the northern mountains early Wednesday, reaching the Jerusalem area by late morning and possibly the northern Negev by evening.

Temperatures are expected to drop to 0-4 degrees Celsius (32-38 degrees Fahrenheit) in Jerusalem, -1-2 °C (30-36 °F) in mountaintop Safed, 3-7 °C (37-45 °F) in northernmost Kiryat Shemona, a comparatively comfortable 7-15 °C (45-59 °F) in the southernmost desert town of Eilat, 6-10 °C (43-50 °F) in Haifa and 6-13 °C (43-55 °F) in Tel Aviv.

Video shows Ramat Gan woman swept up by wind

As the storm moves in, winds are causing damage throughout the country.

In Ramat Gan’s business center, a cellphone user captured the strength of the wind gusts.

Tel Aviv beaches see crashing waves

High waves crash against the beach along the coastline of Tel Aviv and its southern suburb of Bat Yam, and some brave souls are out in the rain and wind taking pictures.

Light snowfall begins in Jerusalem

The first flakes of snow are being reported in southern Jerusalem and the Gush Etzion area.

Traffic police are preparing to close the mountainous roads to Jerusalem with the start of the snowfall, when they will become dangerous.

“Anyone who doesn’t need to get to Jerusalem, please avoid it. Our goal is to avoid the situation where people are stuck on the road on the way to Jerusalem,” a police spokesperson tells Israel Radio.

Syrian refugees brace for storm

While many in the region prepare for the coming storm by unpacking flashlights and stocking up on canned goods and extra blankets, some are not so lucky. The Washington Post reminds us that millions of Syrian refugees are going into the looming winter storm without basic provisions:

As the driving rain turned to icy sleet and a blustering wind rocked their flimsy tent, Umm Khalil and her four children shivered, from fear as much as the cold. A major storm was descending on Lebanon, and along with hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees bracing for the onslaught, she worried the family would lose the few possessions they had left.

Or perhaps worse. Two Syrian babies died of exposure in Lebanon’s last storm, in November. Such is the ferocity of this one, which is expected to bring snow and gale force winds to the areas where most of the refugees live, that aid agencies as well as refugees worry that people’s lives could be at risk.

“I’m afraid the tent will collapse on top of us. I am afraid of how cold it will get,” Umm Khalil said Tuesday. “Most of all I’m afraid for my children.”

Winter storms are sweeping many parts of the world this week, includingthe United States. But there may be few people who will suffer more than the millions displaced by the war in Syria, confronting this fourth winter without adequate shelter from the biting cold weather descending on the region.

Police open road closure hotline

The Israel Police opened a telephone hotline that will answer questions about closed roads and other storm-related questions.

The number is 1-700-705-100.

Police close Route 443 into Jerusalem

Route 443, the major northwestern highway into Jerusalem, has been closed by police.

The closure affects much of the highway’s length, from the Ben Shemen Interchange to the Pisgat Ze’ev Junction in northern Jerusalem.

The news leads Army Radio morning show host Razi Barka’i to quip in an interview with a police spokesman, “You’re returning us to ’48, with Jerusalem under siege.”

“Razi, you have to understand that our job is to reduce damage as much as possible,” the police officer replies diplomatically.

Storm’s silver lining – free parking in capital

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announces that curbside parking throughout the city will be free from today through Friday.

The decision should make it easier for residents to hole up with family and friends elsewhere in the city without worrying about parking meters. Of course, it also may be tied to the fact that the city won’t be able to deploy its parking inspectors to give out tickets until the storm passes.

Photos of northern Israel blanketed in snow

Jerusalem snowfall remains light; Route 443 reopened

Police reopen Route 443, the major artery into northern Jerusalem, after briefly shutting the highway to traffic just after 10 a.m. as snow began to fall.

For the moment, the snow is melting as soon as it hits the ground. Police have said they will close the highways as soon as the snow begins to accumulate.

Flooding reported in cities of the coastal plain

Street flooding is being reported in cities lying along Israel’s Mediterranean coast, from the northern city of Acre to towns south of Tel Aviv.

Tel Aviv sees trees, traffic lights felled by violent winds

According to a count by the Ynet news site, Tel Aviv alone has seen 47 trees, 12 traffic lights, 15 street signs and four sections of buildings under construction uprooted, overturned or broken by the violent winds sweeping Israel’s coastal cities.

Umbrellas, needless to say, aren’t doing any better.

West Bank roads especially dangerous in storm

The north-south highway 60 that links Jerusalem with large sections of the West Bank has been shut north of the capital as police deem the road unsafe for travel.

And they may have a point. Twenty people have been lightly wounded in a multi-car accident along a slippery stretch of road near Tapuah Junction in the northern West Bank, police say.

17,000 Israelis lose electricity

Some 17,000 Israelis lost power for an average of two hours since the start of the storm early Wednesday. Blackouts were experienced in parts of Jerusalem, Netanya, Petah Tikva, the Sharon area north of Tel Aviv, Afula, the northern West Bank and the heart of Tel Aviv.

Thus far, electricity has been restored within two hours of the blackouts, the Israel Electric Corporation says.

Heavy snow blankets Lebanon, Syria

The storm dumped rain and hail on Lebanon’s coast and heavy snows in the mountains and central Bekaa Valley, where gas stations, banks, schools and most shops closed.

While the storm disrupts life for everyone, it is proving particularly trying for the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees who live in tents and makeshift shelters in the Bekaa.

A Syrian boy throws snow from the top of his tent at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

A Syrian boy throws snow from the top of his tent at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Near the town of Anjar, men used brooms and sticks to try to clear the heavy snow from the tops of refugee tents, fearing the weight might cause the shelters to collapse. Inside the tents, adults could be seen huddling around the wood burning stoves to try to keep warm.

In Syria, snow blanketed Qassioun Mountain, which overlooks Damascus. The snowfall also brought traffic to a near standstill in the capital, Damascus, and prompted the Education Ministry to shutter school and universities for two days.

— AP

Highway 443 closed once again

Jerusalem’s main northwestern artery is now closed, police say

The road was briefly shut at 10 a.m. as snowfall began in the hills northwest of the capital. Minutes ago, at noon, it was closed again, apparently for the remainder of the snowfall, which is expected to last at least a day.

Palestinians declare state of emergency

Palestinian authorities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip declare a state of emergency over the storm.

An 8-month-old Palestinian infant in the Tulkarem refugee camp has been killed in a fire caused by a heating stove, Palestinian civil defense ministry spokesman Loae Bani Odeh says.

— AP

200 homeless Jerusalemites lack shelter

Jerusalem’s municipality estimates that 200 homeless residents, known to city workers, are seeking shelter from the storm.

Most can’t be located, according to Army Radio, because they have left the streets for shelters or other locations to escape the storm.

“We’re going to search for them,” a social worker with the Elem organization tells Army Radio. “Some are in abandoned buildings. Some don’t understand what’s happening. Some have to be convinced” to come in from the cold, she explains.

“We sometimes reach the point where we are borderline dragging them [indoors] by force. We really don’t want anyone to die from exposure.”

Route 1 closed; Jerusalem sealed off to cars

Highway 1, the main road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, has been closed in the approaches to the capital.

With road 60 north to the West Bank and highway 443 northwest to Tel Aviv both shut, Jerusalem is now all but sealed off to vehicular traffic as the winter storm gathers force.

Traffic police and army units are on standby to conduct rescues of vehicles that may get stuck on those roads despite the closures.

Syrian refugees in Lebanon blanketed by snow

Syrians throw snow at each other at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Syrians throw snow at each other at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

A Syrian man removes the snow from his tent at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

A Syrian man removes the snow from his tent at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

A Lebanese army soldier holds an umbrella as he walks at a main road covered by the snow, in Al-Marj village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

A Lebanese army soldier holds an umbrella as he walks on a main road covered by the snow, in Al-Marj village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

A Syrian boy looks out through his tent door covered in snow at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

A Syrian boy looks out through his tent door covered in snow at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

A Syrian boy throws snow from the top of his tent at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (Photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

A Syrian boy throws snow from the top of his tent at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (Photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

A Syrian woman and her son remove the snow from the top of their tent at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (Photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

A Syrian woman and her son remove the snow from the top of their tent at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (Photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

A Syrian man, right, walks between tents covered in snow at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (Photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

A Syrian man, right, walks between tents covered in snow at a refugee camp in Deir Zannoun village, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (Photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

Why are cars getting through a ‘closed’ highway 1?

Reports are conflicted for the past two hours over whether highway 1, the main road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, is closed.

Police announced its closure in the last hour, but drivers are still coming through the road.

At a guess, the conflicting reports may suggest that police are announcing the closure before it is strictly necessary — snowfall has begun, but above-zero temperatures in the Jerusalem hills are preventing buildup — to empty the highway as much as possible before temperatures drop and the real closure goes into effect.

Heavy snowfall begins in Jerusalem

Heavy snowfall has begun in Jerusalem, accompanied by icy roads and dense fog.

Police in ponchos seal off the exits to the city, including highways 443 and 1, for fear that the mountainous roads are too dangerous for travel.

The city is now shut down, likely for at least a day or two.

One killed, 2 hurt in car crash near capital

A 13-year-old boy is killed and two others people are injured in a car crash on route 375 near Beit Shemesh, west of Jerusalem.

First-aid teams administer preliminary treatment to the wounded, who are then evacuated to the Hadassah Hospital in the capital’s Ein Kerem neighborhood.

The accident occurs after several cars and a bus skid on the wet road.

IDF shows soldiers smiling in the snow

“Ice doesn’t break our warriors’ spirits,” the army’s Twitter feed declares. “They are ready for action in any time or season.”

Snow blankets Ramallah, Temple Mount

Rivlin urges aid for those struggling in the storm

President Rivlin calls on Israelis to “lend a hand to those who are struggling in the storm.”

“I went out this morning to warm the hearts of the Border Police warriors…who stand guard over us and Jerusalem in the intense cold,” he says in a statement.

“Please take care of yourselves during the storm,” he urges Israelis, and asks that we help those who may face hardship in the coming days.

Sea of Galilee level rises from rainfall

The Israel Water Authority reports that the massive amount of rainfall feeding streams across northern Israel has raised the water level of the Sea of Galilee by a full two centimeters since this morning, and six centimeters since last Saturday.

Since midnight on Tuesday, northern Israel has received 6-8 cm of rain. The center of the country has received 3-4 cm of rain since the rain started this morning, according to Ori Shor, the spokesperson of the Water Authority.

— Melanie Lidman

Two die of exposure in Lebanon snows

In eastern Lebanon, security officials say a Syrian shepherd, Ammar Kamel, 30, and a 7-year-old boy, Majed Badawi, died in the storm Wednesday as they made the dangerous trek in rugged mountains covered with snow from Syria to the Lebanese border town of Chebaa.

— AP

A Lebanese man walks on main road covered by the snow, in Chtoura town, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

A Lebanese man walks on main road covered by the snow, in Chtoura town, in the Bekaa valley, east Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

Snowfall brings respite in Syrian civil war

In Syria, the guns fall silent as snow falls in Aleppo and the capital Damascus and government warplanes remain on the ground because of bad visibility, AP reports.

Snow blankets Syria’s Qassioun Mountain, which overlooks Damascus. The snowfall also brings traffic to a near standstill in the city and prompts the Education Ministry to shutter schools and universities for two days.

Photos emerging from the war-torn city show residents taking a rare respite and playing in the fresh snow.

People play with snow accumulated on a vehicle in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo)

People play with snow accumulated on a vehicle in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo)

People walk across a snow-blanketed street in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo)

People walk across a snow-blanketed street in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo)

Children make a snowman in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo)

Children make a snowman in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015. (AP Photo)

Ramat Gan safari animals seek shelter from storm

The Ramat Gan safari closed to the public with the start of the heavy rains this morning. Workers moved the hay intended to feed the safari’s large herbivores under awnings so the animals may feed out of the rain.

“The hay is more than food, it also helps the animals stay warm,” the safari said in a statement.

Many animals took advantage of the awnings to escape the storm.

“Even many of the hippopotamuses left the lake in order to hide under the awnings,” the statement explains.

Zebras seek shelter from a winter storm in Ramat Gan's wildlife safari, January 7, 2015. (Eran Habani)

Zebras seek shelter from a winter storm in Ramat Gan’s wildlife safari, January 7, 2015. (Eran Habani)

Zebras seek shelter from a winter storm in Ramat Gan's wildlife safari, January 7, 2015. (Eran Habani)

Zebras seek shelter from a winter storm in Ramat Gan’s wildlife safari, January 7, 2015. (Eran Habani)

Ben Gurion control tower struck by lightning

Lightning hits the control tower at Israel’s main airport, Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv.

According to the Airports Authority, the strike damaged some systems, but did not endanger planes arriving or taking off from the airport.

Flights may be delayed by an hour or more as technical crews work to repair the damaged systems.

Jerusalem hospitals on heightened snow alert

Hadassah’s two Jerusalem hospitals, at Ein Kerem in the city’s south and on Mount Scopus in the north, are in a heightened state of readiness to receive injured or ill people during the storm, the organization says.

As the heaviest snow yet begins to fall on Jerusalem, the municipality says emergency crews will open the roads to the city’s hospitals before any others.

Palestinian prisoner visits canceled due to storm

Family visits to Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are canceled due to the raging winter storm, the Palestinian news agency Ma’an reports.

Citing the Red Cross and Palestinian Prisoners Society, the news service says visits are expected to be rescheduled for next week depending on weather conditions.

Road 6 latest highway to close due to storm

A section of Israel’s major toll highway, Road 6, has been closed in both directions due to icy conditions.

The stretch between the Nahshonim Interchange due east from Tel Aviv and the Ben Shemen Interchange near Modiin is closed to all traffic until further notice.

Highway 6 reopens to traffic

Highway 6, between the Nahshonim Interchange due east from Tel Aviv and the Ben Shemen Interchange near Modiin, has reopened to traffic.

5 power poles downed by storm near Dead Sea

Strong winds topple five electricity poles near the northern Dead Sea’s Mineral Beach.

No injuries are reported, and police were en route to the scene.

Rain in Jerusalem washes snow away

Despite the heightened preparedness in Jerusalem, the snow in the capital continues disappoints — at least for now.

Snow fell in Jerusalem for some 15-30 minutes earlier this afternoon, but later turned to rain, washing it away.

All roads are currently open in Jerusalem, and steady rain is reported throughout the city.

9,000 households still without power

Some 9,000 Israeli households remain without power due to the heavy rain and fierce wind nationwide.

Most of the power outages are in Netanya, Herzliya, and Rishon Lezion, Hebrew media reports say.

The Israel Electric Corporation assesses that it will take 3-4 hours to fix the damaged power lines.

Earlier today, some 17,000 Israeli homes reportedly had no electricity.

After respite, snow resumes in capital

Snow begins to fall once again in Jerusalem, painting the city white.

A Channel 2 reporter maintains that there is reason to believe the snow will continue through the evening and overnight, as temperatures are expected to remain below freezing.

But the TV station’s weather forecaster downplays the chances the snow will be significant and says it will likely be gone by tomorrow morning.

Some 38 millimeters of precipitation fell on Tel Aviv since the storm started, and 14 mm in Jerusalem, the TV report said.

Light snow expected Friday

According to a Channel 2 weather report, the snow will stop by Thursday morning, but could pick up again in Jerusalem and northern Israel — albeit briefly — on Friday evening.

The Golan Heights is expected to see additional snowfall on Sunday, Channel 2 says.

School has been called off in the Golan Heights for Thursday.

Snow in Jerusalem on January 7, 2015 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Snow in Jerusalem on January 7, 2015 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

As snow picks up, roads closed again

Traffic police continue to coordinate road closures with the fluctuating weather, shutting down highway 1 between the Sha’ar Hagay and Sakharov junctions, and highway 443 from Ofer to Maccabim interchanges, as the snow picks up.

Two women hospitalized for hypothermia

Two elderly women are hospitalized in northern Israel with symptoms of hypothermia, the Walla news website reports.

The first, a 78-year-old woman from Nahariya, is in moderate-to-serious condition.The second woman, 74, is being treated for hypothermia and a high fever. She is in moderate condition.

Hamas fighters stand watch in the cold

As rain and snow fall across the country, Hamas boasts on its Twitter account that despite the near-freezing temperatures, its fighters remain deployed to keep watch on the “enemy.”

School canceled in Safed

Schools will not open in Safed on Thursday, the municipality announces.

Many schools in the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council in the West Bank call off school as well due to the snow.

The Jerusalem municipality has yet to make an announcement on whether schools will remain shuttered for another day.

Meanwhile, the number of households without power climbs to 17,000, according to the Israel Electric Corporation.

Man survives lightning strike up north

A 45-year-old man is lightly injured after his umbrella was struck by lightning in northern Israel, the Ynet news website reports.

A doctor at the Ziv Medical Center in Safed says the patient was hospitalized with a minor burn on his hand, and is being monitored to ensure that his heart was not affected by the lightning strike.

“He was very lucky,” Dr. Hussein Amar says. He explains that the umbrella handle was likely made of wood or plastic, rather than metal.

In a separate incident, a couple is safely retrieved from their car, which had been swept into the overflowing Hilazon river in the Galilee.

The rescue team successfully pulled the couple out of the water, Ynet reports. When they arrived at the scene, the vehicle was nearly entirely submerged, the rescue workers say.

The man and woman — who is in the advanced stages of pregnancy — emerged without any injuries.

19,000 homes lose power

Channel 2 reports that 19,000 households have no electricity, with the electric company estimating it will take between 3-4 hours to repair.

A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry writes on Twitter that the power outages have affected areas of north Tel Aviv.

Jerusalem to decide on schools in the morning

The Jerusalem municipality will decide whether to open schools in the capital on Thursday morning at 6 a.m.

The Education Ministry says the matriculation exam in Hebrew literature will take place tomorrow as planned. A later date for the test will be announced for students of high schools that are closed due to the weather, it says.

Netanyahu: Storm is not over

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is briefed on the snowstorm in a meeting with Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino and other officials.

Following the meeting, the prime minister urges citizens to stay home.

“The storm is still ahead of us. I hope that it will be less severe than last year’s storm,” he says.

No school in West Bank, near Jerusalem

School is canceled for Thursday in the West Bank city of Ariel, and in settlements in the Samaria Regional Council, the Education Ministry says.

Around Jerusalem, there is no school Thursday in Mevaseret Zion, Givat Ze’ev, Efrat, Beit El, Beitar Illit, Kiryat Ye’arim, and in the Mateh Binyamin and Mateh Yehuda regions.

Water Authority urges citizens to leave water running

The Water Authority urges citizens living in areas where temperatures are expected to drop below 0°C to leave a tap dripping to prevent pipes from freezing over or bursting.

Roads to Jerusalem remain closed

Highways 1 and 443 to Jerusalem are closed to traffic in both directions, the Jerusalem municipality announces at 10:15 p.m., and will remain off limits until further notice.

Israel Railways command center hit by lightning

An Israel Railways command center near the city of Lod is struck by lightning, Israel Radio reports.

Technicians are sent to the scene to evaluate the damage. Trains may be delayed as a result.

Hermon sees over two feet of snow

The Ynet news website reports that the Hermon has been hit with 80-90 cm (31-35 inches) of snow since the winter storm began.

The Golan Heights sees 40 cm (15 inches), Safed and Hebron receive some 10 cm (3.9 inches) and Jerusalem a mere 3-5 cm (1.1-1.9 inches).

Rain, rain, go away

Snow has been replaced by rain in Jerusalem, and the Times of Israel is shutting down the liveblog until the sun rises on a new day. Let’s hope it all doesn’t freeze over overnight.

Thanks for keeping up to date with developments on The Times of Israel.

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