Israel battens down for storm, as Jerusalem awaits maiden snowfall

Temperatures in Jerusalem will hit zero degrees Celsius, and in Tel Aviv, the mercury will fall as low as 10 degrees during the day and 6 degrees at night.

This weekend may bring the year’s first snowfall to spread beyond Israel’s northern mountains, with snow expected on hilltops in the north and center of the country and, briefly, in Jerusalem. The stormy weather will taper off on Sunday.

On Thursday, rain fell throughout most of the country, and Mount Hermon got snow. The heaviest rainfall, according to the Meteo-Tech company, was around Ben Shemen, which got 40 millimeters.

On Friday, the rain and cold will intensify, with winds of 50 to 100 kilometers per hour expected in the afternoon. The winds are likely to whip up dust storms.

After nightfall, a cold front will settle in and temperatures will plummet. With the cold will come snow, moving gradually southward from Mount Hermon to hills in the north and center above 700 meters high. The snow is expected to hit Jerusalem either Friday night or Saturday morning.

“There’s a chance it will accumulate on the ground, and it could last a few hours,” said Nahum Malik of Meteo-Tech.

Temperatures in Jerusalem will hit zero degrees Celsius tomorrow morning, and in Tel Aviv, the mercury will fall as low as 10 degrees during the day and 6 degrees at night.

The Jerusalem municipality said it has 50 snowplows on standby, as well as dispensers equipped with 65 tons of salt. The city has also beefed up its 106 emergency hotline, and a decision on whether to hold school on Sunday will be made that morning based on the weather. The city also reminded residents that water taps should be left slightly open to prevent the pipes from exploding due to the cold.

Snow started falling on Mount Hermon on Thursday and the site closed to visitors until Sunday.

The Golan Regional Council, Public Works Department, IDF, police, Magen David Adom rescue services and fire services set up a snow-emergency headquarters on Thursday. They prepared emergency vehicles and deployed nine snowplows throughout the Golan to clear thoroughfares over the weekend. They also intend to block certain roads to traffic, to prevent visitors from getting stuck in the snow.

Tomorrow night the Golan Regional Council will decide whether to close the schools on Sunday, depending on the weather. The Safed municipality said it would put its emergency and rescue teams on call.

Safed Mayor Ilan Schohat has instructed municipality staff to clear the roads if it snows, with the cooperation of the IDF and Department of Public Works. The town’s social affairs staff and volunteer organizations will offer housing, heaters and blankets to the needy.

The municipality advised people to check their heating systems, trim trees and branches near cables, check their electric devices, prepare emergency lighting and tie down television antennae, solar heaters and other objects on the roof.