A heavy snowfall blanketed Jerusalem and the surrounding areas Tuesday night and was continuing to fall Wednesday. As expected, the Jerusalem Municipality decided to cancel school in the capital for the day due to the slippery streets. University classes were also canceled, as well as kindergartens and preschools. There were also no classes in Gush Etzion, Ofra, Kochav Ya'acov, Tel Zion, Ma'ale Levona, Eli, Shilo and Beit El.

©Ariel Jerozolimski
The Old City of Jerusalem covered in snow.


Major thoroughfares in the city were opened for traffic, but the city still requested that drivers not to risk the slippery streets with private vehicles. 100 snow plows were deployed around the city to clear the roads, especially those leading to hospitals and emergency facilities.

Additionally, courts in the Jerusalem area did not hold sessions.

A 17-year-old girl was lightly injured when a police car flipped over on Jerusalem's Golda Meir Boulevard due to the blizzard. An MDA team called to the scene evacuated the girl to a hospital.

The inclement weather swept across not only Jerusalem, as the Golan Heights saw an accumulation of dozens of centimeters of snow.

The Jerusalem Municipality prepared overnight Tuesday as snow began blanketing the capital, with Mayor Uri Lupoliansky overseeing the deployment of street clearing tractors.

Higher elevations throughout the country are likely to be covered with snow over the next two days, according to Israel Meteorological Service forecaster Uri Batz. About 10 cm. of snow are expected to accumulate in Jerusalem by the end of Wednesday and another 10 by late Thursday. Friday's forecast predicts very cold and windy weather, but no additional snow.

Batz said the Carmel Hills, near Haifa, would probably get a light layer of snow, something that hasn't happened since 2000. Even Eilat residents will likely be able to enjoy the sight of snow on the tops of the Edom Mountains across the Jordanian border. The snow could take as long as a week to disappear, he said.

The forecaster said that with strong winds, the temperature in the capital could plummet to as low as -9º C, causing any water on the roads and sidewalks to freeze.

Ahead of the storm, Magen David Adom boosted its professional and volunteer staff. Ambulances with four-wheel drive have been prepared, along with chains for other emergency vehicles' tires. Routes to hospitals will be the first to be cleared. MDA has also reissued protocols for treating victims of hypothermia, and paramedics have been outfitted with warm gloves and special suits.

About 10 people, mostly elderly or homeless, died of hypothermia during a recent cold wave, with twice as many hospitalized.

Yad Sarah is ready to transport patients who need urgent care, such as kidney dialysis or cancer treatment, to hospitals or clinics. The organization can be contacted at *6444 from any phone. Some 25 Nechonit vans and other vehicles equipped to transport wheelchair-bound patients have been supplied with tire chains.

The weather was already showing its force in the region on Tuesday, as the Lebanese navy and UN peacekeepers rescued 14 sailors from a ship that was stranded in the Mediterranean by high waves, as a heavy snow storm bashed the country.

The army said the ship, which carries a Lebanese flag, was stuck 56 km. off the coast from the southern city of Sidon. The UN mission identified the ship as MV GEVO VICTORY, and said that helicopters took part in the rescue. One of the ship's crew had suffered minor injuries.

Also on Tuesday, flights from Tel Aviv's Sde Dov Airport to the North were canceled due to extreme weather, Israel Radio reported. Flights from Ben-Gurion Airport were continuing as scheduled, the report added.