After weeks of hype, snow finally settled in Jerusalem and began melting quickly on Friday, and light snow was expected to continue intermittently for much of the day.

Schools were closed throughout Jerusalem, several West Bank settlements, Safed and in other parts of the country.

The Sea of Galilee’s water lever rose nine centimeters Thursday and now stands at 3.4 meters below the upper red line.

For North Americans, the amount of snow in the capital would seem like amateur hour, but in Israel, the highly-anticipated winter flurry brought countless people out to “play.” For Jerusalem, however light the flurries, they were the first to settle in four years.

A young Israeli playing in the snow in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem. (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

A young Israeli playing in the snow in the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem. (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

Thursday was stormy throughout the day with heavy rains and strong winds that continued into the night until about 4:30 am when the snow began.

Residents of northern Israel spoke of Thursday as marking the worst weather they could remember.

In what has been the wettest winter Israel has seen for several years — beginning to offset some of the damaging impact of a succession of years with below average rainfall — Thursday’s high winds and dense precipitation caused damage throughout the country, uprooting trees and tearing down power lines as well as causing schools in the north to close due to snow. They also disrupted air traffic at Ben-Gurion Airport.

In the Golan Heights, a pile-up of over nine inches of snow accumulated overnight Wednesday. At the top of Mount Hermon, snow passed the two meter mark for the first time in a decade. Light snow mixed with sleet and rain fell in Jerusalem overnight Wednesday, but didn’t settle. Jerusalem’s municipality said it was braced for snow, with snow ploughs ready to clear the streets.

Snow falls in Jerusalem, March 2, 2012 (photo credit: Aaron Kalman/Times of Israel)

Snow falls in Jerusalem, March 2, 2012 (photo credit: Aaron Kalman/Times of Israel)

In Netanya on Wednesday, a man was lightly wounded when winds shattered a glass shop door, and a construction worker was taken to the Laniado hospital with cuts in his head. Hundreds of houses from the coastal area suffered power shortages.

In places all over the country, trees, hit by lightning or uprooted by strong winds, were blocking streets and damaging parked cars. Gusts were recorded at up to 120 kilometers per hour.

A fallen tree on Tel Aviv’s central King George street Wednesday hit a power line that collapsed, causing traffic jams in the area. Police shut down the area as electric company crews dealt with the loose cables. Eyewitnesses told Maariv the earth shook before the tree’s roots started to push up through large portions of the sidewalk.

A fallen tree on King George street in Tel Aviv (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

A fallen tree on King George street in Tel Aviv (photo credit: Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

Beersheba and the south of the country were hit by major sandstorms, and the Environmental Protection Ministry issued a warning about air pollution levels throughout the Negev, recommending that the elderly and sick refrain from physical activity.

Snow flurries also fell in Kibbutz Yiron, located in the northern Galilee on the border with Lebanon.

Asher Zeiger contributed to this report