More snow, schools closed, in Jerusalem hills and in north

//More snow, schools closed, in Jerusalem hills and in north

More snow, schools closed, in Jerusalem hills and in north

By | 2015-01-09T09:19:43+00:00 January 9th, 2015|More Top Stories|0 Comments

Snow returned to the Jerusalem area Friday morning, with flurries in the capital and more significant accumulation in the surrounding hill country.

The Gush Etzion bloc, Beit El, and Psagot near Jerusalem all saw heavy snow Friday, as did the Golan Heights, Safed, and Metulla in northern Israel.

There was also a possibility of snow at higher elevations in the Negev Desert.

Unusually cold weather was expected Friday and Saturday, with temperatures dipping to lows that had not been seen for seven years.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat asked residents to stay off the roads leading in and out of the city, and to minimize walking and driving within the city, whose streets are expected to be covered in ice. He also recommended leaving a tap dripping, in order to keep pipes from freezing and water heaters from bursting.

Barkat asked volunteers at synagogues to ensure entrances are safe for worshipers.

Roads in and out of the Galilee city of Safed were closed Friday morning, but those leading toward Rosh Pina were reopened. Roads heading toward Mt. Meron remained closed. Classes in the city were also canceled.

Homes and schools in Dimona lost power Friday morning, but the electric company fixed the problem for all but several dozen homes in the Negev city. Mayor Benny Biton canceled classes after the outage.

The Sea of Galilee rose another centimeter over the past 24 hours, bringing the total rise over the week to 8 centimeters. The lake is expected to fill even further when snow in the Golan and Galilee starts melting.

The weather caused several major roads to be closed to traffic. Route 90, south of Nahal Dragot in the Judean Desert, was shut because of flash-flood warnings. Route 60 from Hebron to Gush Etzion was also blocked off for several hours before reopening. Numerous roads within Gush Etzion were closed as well.

Routes across the northern Golan Heights were also shut down.

Schools in Jerusalem were closed Friday, as they were in Mevasseret Zion, Efrat, Beitar Illit, Har Adar, Kiryat Yearim, Kiryat Arba, Beit El, Gush Etzion, Ofra, Psagot, the Har Hevron Regional Council, Safed, Merom Galil Regional Council, Metulla, and the Tamar Regional Council.

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.

Bus lines between Jerusalem and various surrounding settlements, especially in Gush Etzion, also suspended operation.

Temperatures in Jerusalem are expected to fall below 0° Celsius, and in Safed temperatures may dip even further.

The Mediterranean Sea 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 7, 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.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.