Snow delays Jerusalem schools, university

Schools start at 9:00, Hebrew University delayed 'til 12:00, capital's public transport operating.

snow Sacher Park 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
snow Sacher Park 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
Snow continued to fall in Jerusalem Tuesday after an overnight storm which blanketed city streets. Due to the snow, the Jerusalem Municipality delayed the start of schools in the capital until 9:00 a.m. and Hebrew University lessons commenced at 12:00. Chairperson of the Parents Association, Etti Binyamin, called on parents not to send their kids to schools and expressed astonishment over the municipality's announcement. She said the municipality usually coordinates such decisions with the association. "It is absurd… there is no reason why a kid should fall and hurt himself for the sake of a couple of hours, " Binyamin told Israel Radio. School was canceled in the northern Golan Heights, Gush Etzion (except for Kedar), Har Hadar, Mevaseret Zion, Efrat, Kiryat Arba, Hebron and in and following schools in the Judea district: Ein Rafah, Alon, Tzur Hadassa's Adasim, Ein Harim and Ein Kerem. The Education Ministry stressed that the decisions to cancel schools was under the authorization of local authorities. The ministry set up the following emergency number for parents to call: 1212-222666. Dozens of snowplows and tractors and 34 tons of battled the snowstorm, the second one to blanket the capital this year. By Monday evening, the bright sunshine had turned into driving rain and strong winds. Slightly after dark, the flakes began falling. By 8.30 Tuesday morning, 25 centimeters of snow had fallen on the lower Hermon, raising the snow level to 70 centimeters. The site was closed to visitors and skiers. Route 978, from Wassad junction, and Route 98, from Ein Zivan junction, were closed northbound. On Monday, Anatoly Haritonov of the Israel Meteorological Service told The Jerusalem Post flooding was anticipated in low-lying areas and streams. "The snow and the rain will weaken by Tuesday afternoon and on Wednesday it will be a little warmer with local rains in some places," Haritonov said. Around 80 homeless people were found and placed in shelters in Jerusalem, as part of the municipality's "Warm Home" project. Homeless people who refused to be evacuated to warm buildings were given the details of the nearest shelter. Dr. Amos Porat, director of the Climate Department at the Israel Meteorological Service, said that two snowfalls in a year was not a rare occurrence. It happened in the winters of 2002-2003; 1997-1998; 1992-1993; and 1991-1992, Porat said. He also said it was difficult to characterize years with more than one snow event. "These sorts of winters are colder, but not necessarily more rainy," he said. Porat added that snow tended to hit the region in January and February, and then in March. It was less likely to come in December, he said, and only once has it snowed in early April, in 1990. Across the country, the Israel National Roads Company reinforced its patrols, with stations set up in problematic areas to identify flooded or blocked roads. If the public encounters a blocked road, it is invited to call *2120 and report the hazard. The Tourism Ministry was providing assistance to Jerusalem visitors in several languages at the Jaffa Gate information center and at (02) 627-1422, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.