Roads to Jerusalem reopen after heavy overnight snowfall

Skies clear over central hills after 10 inches falls on capital; heavy rains Friday night

View of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem covered in snow, February 20, 2015. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
View of the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem covered in snow, February 20, 2015. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Police reopened the highways leading into Jerusalem Friday afternoon after a heavy snowfall the previous night forced road closures and the shutdown of public transportation in the capital. By Friday evening, heavy rain was falling in the city.

As much as 10 inches (25 centimeters) of snow fell on Jerusalem overnight, and though snowplows were clearing roads in the city, authorities urged residents to refrain from unnecessary travel on the slippery streets.

The Israel Electric Corporation said that, despite the storm, there were no hitches in supplying customers with power.

Heavy snow began falling and accumulating in Jerusalem overnight, changing over from frozen rain late Thursday night.

According to Ynet, areas of the Galilee and Golan Heights received over 1 foot (30 cm) of snow.

Regular bus service in Jerusalem, including intercity buses to and from the capital, was canceled. Sixteen special lines were operating, primarily between the Central Bus Station and the Malha train station. The Tel Aviv-Jerusalem train line remained operational on Friday, but at a slower pace than usual.

The Israel Railways said Thursday that it was increasing service to and from Jerusalem, with trains setting off in either direction once per hour. This service continued until right before the Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday.

Magen David Adom paramedics helped a woman deliver a baby girl in their ambulance overnight during the snowstorm in Jerusalem.

The baby was born without complications, and she and her mother were taken to Bikur Holim Hospital in the capital, Israel National News reported.

Rescue personnel in Jerusalem pitched in to help a bride and groom make their way home from their wedding.

Schools in and around Jerusalem — including Givat Ze’ev, Ma’ale Adumim, Kiryat Arba, Beit El and Kiryat Yearim — and in some cities in the Golan Heights were closed Friday.

In northern Israel, schools in Safed, Ma’alot-Tarshiha and the Marom Regional Council also remained shut, as did schools in the Druze towns of Daliyat al-Karmel and Ussfiyeh. Further south, schools were closed in Arad, Meitar, the Bnei Shimon Regional Council and the Hebron Hills.

The train services between Rishon Lezion and Lod, and between Beersheba and Dimona, were canceled in order to free up cars for other overloaded lines, Ynet reported. Shuttle bus services were provided for customers on those lines.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a situation assessment meeting in Jerusalem Thursday, laying out goals for authorities and emergency services.

“The first objective is to save lives, the second to open roads and the third to supply electricity,” he said, according to a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Netanyahu urged citizens to heed the warnings and instructions of authorities.

Over 200 snow plows, mechanical diggers and salt trucks, and dozens of 4 x 4 vehicles were on standby in order to clear the streets, the Jerusalem Municipality said Thursday.

The precautions in Jerusalem were driven by memories of a surprisingly heavy storm in December 2013, which blanketed the capital for days, blocking roads, bringing down power lines and trees, causing blackouts and cutting off the capital to travel.

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