Jerusalem, northern towns gird for rare snowstorm

Rainfall and plunging temperatures forecast across the country, with capital and northern areas expected to get a dusting Wednesday and Thursday

The Western Wall, right, and the gilded Dome of the Rock, among the holiest sites for Jews and Muslims, are covered in snow,  Dec. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)
The Western Wall, right, and the gilded Dome of the Rock, among the holiest sites for Jews and Muslims, are covered in snow, Dec. 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

Preparations were underway Tuesday in the north of Israel and the Jerusalem area for a wintry blast expected to bring a rare snowstorm to the region.

Jerusalem was preparing for up to 10 centimeters (four inches) of snow while parts of the northern Golan Heights were readying for up to 30 centimeters (one foot).

The first flakes are expected to fall in Jerusalem on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, with the main storm coming Wednesday afternoon through Thursday morning, at which point the snow will be replaced by rain, forecasters predicted.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion said that the municipality was working to locate any homeless people who could be in danger and was increasing welfare checks on the vulnerable residents of the city.

A child playing in the snow in the Druze village of Majdal Shams, January 20, 2021 (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

“We are doing our utmost to best prepare for the weather,” said Lion. “I urge city residents to abide by safety rules and obey instructions.”

The mayor also said that a last-minute decision would be made on whether the schools and kindergartens would open. The education system remains largely shut in Jerusalem as part of the country’s third pandemic lockdown.

The nearby town of Mevasseret Zion has already announced that all classes will be online on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the northern city of Safed was preparing snowplows and distributing blankets to those who may need them. The municipality also warned residents to be prepared for possible disruptions to the power supply.

A couple walk their dog in Jerusalem, Feb. 20, 2015 (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic)

Flood warnings were in place for some parts of the coastal region and desert throughout the week, with the Tel Aviv municipality urging residents who live below ground level to check that their homes are fully sealed. The municipality said a number of community centers would be open throughout the city for any who need to evacuate.

Israel’s central mountainous region, including Jerusalem, gets snowfall 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.

View of Jerusalem’s Rehavia neighborhood on January 10, 2015, after a snowy day. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The rains and cold weather will continue into the weekend nationwide.

After the country went through its wettest November since 1994, the weather has since been mostly sunny and unseasonably warm, with occasional rainstorms.

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