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Jerusalem schools called off as storm expected to roar back

Day after students in capital go back to classes, municipality calls snow day ahead of expected second round of wintry blast Friday

A young girl walks with an umbrella near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem a winter storm hits Israel, January 07, 2015. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/FLASH90)
A young girl walks with an umbrella near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem a winter storm hits Israel, January 07, 2015. (photo credit: Nati Shohat/FLASH90)

Schools in Jerusalem will be closed Friday, amid weather reports anticipating renewed snowfall Thursday night into Friday morning, a day after a predicted massive storm failed to fully materialize.

Jerusalem municipal officials said the decision was made in cooperation with the city’s parents union, and meant to avoid risking the children’s safety.

Schools were also shuttered in areas of the West Bank, and some roads out of the capital were expected to be closed off late Thursday as wet highways threatened to freeze overnight.

Schools in the capital were back in session Thursday, after the city’s pupils stayed home Wednesday amid a dusting of snow.

In areas surrounding Jerusalem, however, including Mevasseret Zion, Givat Ze’ev, Beitar Ilit, Efrat and Psagot, schools remained closed.

In addition to Jerusalem, schools in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of the capital, where snowfall is also expected during the night, will be closed Friday. Bus lines between Jerusalem and various surrounding settlements will suspend operation.

Temperatures in Jerusalem are expected to fall to zero degrees Celsius, and in the northern city of Safed temperatures may dip below freezing point. Snow is expected to fall Friday in mountains higher than 700 meters, though light snowfall may descend upon peaks higher than 400 meters.

According to weather reports, snow is also expected on peaks in the northern Negev and the Samaria region of the West Bank, and large amounts may pile up in the Hebron Hills.

The Mediterranean is expected to be particularly turbulent, with waves reaching up to six meters.

Giant waves hit the dock due to stormy winds at the Tel Aviv port, January 07, 2015. (photo credit: Ben Kelmer/FLASH90)
Giant waves hit the dock due to stormy winds at the Tel Aviv port, January 07, 2015. (photo credit: Ben Kelmer/FLASH90)

The storm began late Tuesday night and picked up on Wednesday as heavy rains and high winds swept the country. Snow was reported in the north from early Wednesday, and spread to elevated peaks in the center of the country by mid-morning.

Forecasters had predicted a large snowfall that was expected to cripple Jerusalem and the area, but only some five centimeters (two inches) fell in the capital, with most roads cleared in a matter of hours.

Thousands of homes were disconnected from electricity during the storm, though by Thursday morning only a few thousand remained powerless, mainly in the cities of Netanya, Petah Tikva and Dimona.

On Wednesday, a 13-year-old boy was killed in a car accident on an icy road after a bus driver lost control and slammed into a nearby vehicle in the Ella Valley in central Israel. Several people were treated for various weather-related injuries, including hypothermia.

Street flooding was reported in cities along Israel’s Mediterranean coast, from the northern city of Acre to towns south of Tel Aviv.

Also on Wednesday, lightning struck an air traffic control tower in Ben Gurion Airport, harming its control systems. Later that day, lightning struck again in the airport, hitting an EasyJet airline plane, leaving no injuries but causing damage to the aircraft, forcing it to remain grounded.

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