Israel battens down the hatches as large storm moves in

Gale force winds, heavy rains and snow are expected around country over next several days

Illustrative photo of a windsurfer off the Tel Aviv shore on February 10, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a windsurfer off the Tel Aviv shore on February 10, 2015 (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

A major winter storm was forecasted to bring high winds, heavy rains and significant snow to parts of Israel Wednesday, as winter came roaring back to the region after a month-long respite.

Tuesday saw gusting winds throughout the country, bringing dust storms that clouded the sky and caused breathing problems in the center and south of the country.

Heavy rains were expected to drench northern Israel Tuesday night and spread to the center of the country by Wednesday morning.

A heavy snowfall of up to 50 cm (20 in) is predicted to fall on Mount Hermon in the northern Golan Heights beginning Tuesday night, and other high elevation areas in the north could see up to 25 cm (10 in) of snow.

There is a chance of a light snowfall in Jerusalem Wednesday night, although it is not expected to accumulate.

The high winds of up to 100 kilometers per hour (60 mph) are expected across the country through Wednesday, bringing more dust to the region.

The stormy weather is expected to persist through the weekend.

In anticipation of the severe weather, the police announced it had increased its emergency response personnel throughout Israel to help with flooding, downed trees and dangerous driving conditions.

Police urged the public to drive with caution, especially in areas prone to flash floods.

The police traffic department will provide regular updates of flooding, road closures and driving conditions.

The storm comes after several weeks of mild weather, following a snowstorm in early January that was predicted to dump large amounts of snow, but left most areas with only a dusting.

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