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Israelis brace for frigid temperatures, escalating storms
By SHARON UDASIN AND DANIEL K. EISENBUD
08/12/2013
Although winter arrived late this year, low temperatures serve as reminder that winter has arrived; Jerusalem Municipality readies for possible snowfall.
 
With an onslaught of torrential rains forecasted to continue, the country’s residents will begin to brace themselves for the season’s coldest temperatures yet, and possibly even snow later in the week.

Precipitation, as well as unseasonably cool weather, will continue for the next several days, with temperatures dropping, and increasingly strong winds rendering flimsy umbrellas useless.

The cold polar air is coming southward from the upper layer of the atmosphere over Russia, causing instability in the weather, Oren Davidoff, a duty weather forecaster for the Israel Meteorological Service (IMS), told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday evening.

“The big deal is about how cold it is – the absolute value of how cold it is,” Davidoff said.

While it is normal for cold air to come to Israel from Russia, what is out of the ordinary is the deepening of the weather troughs coming Israel’s way, he explained.

In meteorological terms, a trough is an elongated region characterized by low atmospheric pressure, whereas a ridge is a similar area with high atmospheric pressure.

Unlike the effects of the deepening trough coming this week, Israelis experienced unseasonably hot and dry temperatures caused by a high-altitude air ridge, while fasting over Yom Kippur in September.

Typically, troughs are not deep enough to bring such cold air from Russia, arriving only as far south as Turkey, according to Davidoff.

“It’s not something out of the ordinary as to where it comes from,” he said. “[It is] the level of the trough and temperatures that are really low [that] are reaching our area.”

Wednesday and Thursday should have the coldest temperatures of the week, with the lowest temperatures coming late Wednesday night, Davidoff predicted.

In general, temperatures will be between seven and nine degrees below seasonal averages throughout the country, with potentially favorable conditions for snow in the North as well as in Jerusalem and the northern Negev mountains.

Winds, meanwhile, will be strong, climbing as high as 100 kilometers per hour, he continued.

Nevertheless, Davidoff said the forecasting models could yet change.

“A difference of one degree here or there could make the difference between heavy snow and sleet,” he said.

Most of Sunday’s rain fell in the Galilee, with Safed receiving 31.6 millimeters, Amiad 28.6, and Harashim 28.3, according to the IMS. Tel Aviv received 13.2 mm., Jerusalem 7.4 and lower Haifa 15.3.

Since the beginning of the current rains last Wednesday night, the most fell in Dorot, in the Negev, with 134.5 mm., Ein Hashofet, in the northern coastal region, with 84, Negba, on the southern coastal plain, with 82.9; Harashim, with 80.9; Gat, on the southern coastal plain, with 78.3 and the Haifa Technion measuring station, with 72.4.

On Thursday, Lake Kinneret’s water level rose for the first time since April, climbing a cm. to reach 211.40 meters below sea level.

Despite the ongoing rainy weather, the Water Authority reported no changes as of both Friday and Sunday mornings.

As far as the question of snow goes, Jerusalem Municipality representatives told the Post that the city was not yet preparing for this.

Its Division of Emergency and Safety has, however, completed its winter preparations, with an emphasis on flood and wind control, water-proofing roofs, cleaning gutters, pruning trees and ensuring pets are adequately heated during inclement weather.

It also requested that the public refrain from any movement that could result in injury, including venturing outside during severe storms.

Further information, including emergency instructions, can be accessed at the city’s website.

Regardless of whether snow hits the North or the Jerusalem region toward the end of the week, Davidoff stressed that one thing was certain.

“It’s going to be cold on Thursday,” he said. “That’s for sure.”
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