Israel braces for major winter storm
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Israel braces for major winter storm

Residents warned to prepare for disruptions as snow expected to fall in higher elevations across the country

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)

Israeli authorities on Tuesday hastened to prepare for a blast of wintry weather expected to hit later in the week, bringing in heavy rains, as well as snow in higher elevations, such as Jerusalem.

According to forecasters, temperatures are expected to drop overnight Wednesday, with thunderstorms spreading throughout Israel, including the usually arid Negev Desert. Snow was projected to fall in the northern Golan Hights and Galilee overnight on Thursday, spreading to the Jerusalem hills, and even the coastal city of Haifa during the afternoon.

Roads leading into the capital were expected to be closed starting on Thursday evening. In anticipation of the inclement weather, Israel’s basketball league chose to postpone the State Cup game between Hapoel Jerusalem and Maccabi Tel Aviv scheduled Thursday, Channel 2 reported.

“We call on all residents to demonstrate responsibility and adhere to municipal and emergency officials’ guidelines,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told Israeli news site Ynet Tuesday.

Long lines were reported in grocery stores across the city Tuesday as residents rushed to buy all necessities before the storm hits.

“People are worried about the snow,” supermarket chain owner Rami Levy told Ynet, adding that the shopper traffic on Tuesday was double that of a usual weekday.

Last week, forecasters predicted a heavy snowfall throughout the country, but the storm brought heavy rain, dust storms and gale force winds to most of Israel instead.

Negev residents may also see light snowfall as well, which is expected to gradually die down Friday afternoon and end Saturday night.

Sledding at the Mount Hermon ski resort (photo credit: Dima Vazinovich/Flash90)
Sledding at the Mount Hermon ski resort (photo credit: Dima Vazinovich/Flash90)

Golan Hights and Upper Galilee residents received letters last Thursday from the regional councils, urging them to prepare for the latest storm in similar fashion to the prior two earlier in the year.

A security official for the Upper Galiliee regional council warned residents of traffic disruptions, power shortages and frozen faucets. “It is important to ensure sufficient amounts of food and gas, as well as a properly operating generator,” the security official wrote in the letter.

The Golan Hights regional council opened emergency headquarters in wake of the storm, with police, IDF, electric company, fire department and MDA representatives. Council officials warned residents and tourists to avoid driving during the storm.

Schools in the area did not yet announce if and when they will be shut down, though updates are expected to be posted online later in the week.

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