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Jerusalem braces for a dusting of white as winter storm moves in

Blizzard expected in the Golan and Galilee highlands, with some snow in the center of the country; heavy rainfall predicted along the coastal plain

Cows in the snow in the northern Golan Heights, January 19, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)
Cows in the snow in the northern Golan Heights, January 19, 2022. (Michael Giladi/Flash90)

Israel is gearing for the arrival later this week of a winter storm that is expected to bring major rainfall and strong winds, as well as snow in the northern highlands and Jerusalem.

According to the meteorological service, rain is expected on Sunday in northern Israel and along the coastal plain, accompanied by isolated thunderstorms, with a slight risk of flooding.

It said the rain would gradually spread to central Israel, with heavy winds and colder-than-usual weather in most parts of the country.

Heavy snowfall was expected in the Golan Heights through Monday, according to the Israel Meteorological Service, which also said light snow was possible on the high peaks of northern Israel.

Tuesday is expected to be clear and cold.

On Wednesday, a short but intense storm, dubbed “Elpis,” is predicted to bring heavy snowfall to Mount Hermon and the Golan Heights in the morning, with the dusting spreading later in the day to the Galilee and the hilly central region, including Jerusalem.

People take cover from the rain as they walk on Jaffa Road in the city center of Jerusalem on December 20, 2021. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Emergency, rescue and medical services were gearing up for the storm, which is set to last through Thursday, bringing heavy rainfall, thunderstorms and strong winds to the coastal plain.

Temperatures were expected to drop during the course of Sunday across the country, and flood warnings were issued in coastal and other low-lying areas.

The Mount Hermon ski resort in the Golan Heights announced it will be closed on Sunday and Monday due to the weather conditions, following a busy weekend at the site.

There was heavy traffic on the roads leading to the resort Saturday, which the site’s management blamed on visitors who came to ski without booking a pass in advance. Thousands of people arrive before management shuttered the gates at the usual 4 p.m. closing time.

People at the Mount Hermon ski resort in northern Israel, January 17, 2022. (David Cohen/Flash90)

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

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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