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Golan covered in white as Jerusalem braces for snow

Schools in northern region shuttered due to weather; heavy rainfall expected along the coast throughout the day

The snow-covered landscape in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, February 18, 2021 (Michael Giladi/ Flash 90)
The snow-covered landscape in the Golan Heights, northern Israel, February 18, 2021 (Michael Giladi/ Flash 90)

Residents of the Golan Heights in northern Israel woke up Wednesday to a thick layer of snow covering the ground, with a dusting also expected in the higher peaks of central Israel including, possibly, Jerusalem.

Emergency, rescue and medical services were gearing up for a major storm that is set to last through Thursday.

Police said major roads in the Golan have been closed to traffic while schools in the area remained shut due to the weather conditions.

The snow began on the highest peaks early Wednesday and spread to the rest of the plateau, with some falling on the Galilee highlands.

On Mount Hermon, the highest point in the country, 15 centimeters of snow fell at the lower levels while on the summit 25 centimeters of snow gathered. Due to the weather, the site’s ski center was closed.

Temperatures are expected to drop during the course of the day across the country. Flood warnings were issued in coastal and other low-lying areas.

Heavy rainfall, accompanied by thunderstorms, will continue along the coastal plain until Thursday.

Torrential downpours on Sunday resulted in several areas being flooded, with some people requiring rescue from stranded vehicles and an entire neighborhood in Lod cut off by water.

The temperature in Jerusalem on Wednesday is expected to be 2-6°C (34-41°F) and in Tel Aviv 14-10°C (48-54°F).

Israelis drive their cars in a flooded street due to heavy rain in Tel Aviv, December 21, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

The Water Authority said the water level in the Sea of Galilee had risen by 1.5 centimeters since Tuesday and now stands at 209.56 meters below sea level, 76 centimeters below full capacity.

Israel’s central mountainous region, including Jerusalem, gets snowfall once every few years.

Jerusalem Municipality’s maintenance department prepare tractors for clearing snow, January 19, 2022 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In 2013, a major blizzard knocked out power in several neighborhoods after blanketing the city with up to 30 centimeters (one foot) of snow. That same storm socked higher elevations south of the city with up to 90 centimeters (three feet) of snow, in what was deemed a once-in-a-century event.

However, eastern Mediterranean weather is fickle, and predictions of winter wonderlands often do not pan out.

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