Jerusalem braces for snow

Municipality prepares to clear roads, help needy keep warm.

a foal rolls in snow near kibbutz Ein Zivan_390 (photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
a foal rolls in snow near kibbutz Ein Zivan_390
(photo credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters)
Jerusalemites geared up yet again for a potential snowstorm that could coat the city on Friday, while residents of the North were already encountering their own wintry mess on Wednesday and Thursday.
Rain poured from the North to the Negev throughout the day on Thursday, and the precipitation will likely continue, in a more scattered form, on Friday, according to the Israel Meteorological Service.
The meteorologists predicted that snow would fall on top of the northern and central mountains, including the Jerusalem area, overnight Thursday. Meanwhile, as of Thursday morning, Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) stood at 212.37 meters below sea level, still 3.5 meters from a full basin.
Throughout the day on Thursday, the Jerusalem Municipality conducted feasibility studies regarding potential snowfall for that night and the weekend. Depending on the situation and the updated weather forecasts, the city said it would place on call approximately 50 snow plows, salt spreaders – filled with 40 tons of salt – and other equipment for maintaining the city’s main arteries. Also in the works was a system for identifying freezing points and distributing salt on main thoroughfares.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat ordered municipal teams to prioritize clearing the snow from the main roads, so as to enable emergency vehicles to pass through.
The capital’s welfare department and division for the advancement of youth will be ensuring during the weekend that shelter, heating equipment and blankets are available to the needy, the elderly and anyone else with special needs. Staff from the departments held information sessions on Thursday for the homeless and disconnected youth, according to the municipality, with the goal of offering them respite for the coming days and alerting them that an emergency center will operate 24 hours per day.
As the weekend begins, the municipality urged the public to be aware of the sharp temperature drops, and to leave the hot water faucet dripping to prevent pipe bursts. In addition, the city suggested that all residents check the integrity of their heating systems, waterproof their roofs and window frames, clean open courtyards, ensure that nothing was blocking drainage canals and gutters, prune trees near electrical wires and strengthen rooftop solar water heaters.
When operating vehicles in snowy weather, the city warned, drivers should exercise the utmost vigilance and caution. In case of emergency, the city said, its *106 hotline would be active at all hours.
The municipality’s Veterinary Services also said it would be operating 24 hours per day, and reminded residents to give their cats and dogs up to 30 percent extra food to keep them warm in the winter.
As of press time on Thursday, the municipality said that schools may or may not be open, depending on Friday’s weather, and that the public should be notified by 6 a.m. on radio and television broadcasts.
In the North, which began receiving snow as early as Wednesday, the only school that was closed due to the snowy weather was the Avital elementary school at Kibbutz Merom Hagolan in the northern Golan Heights, according to the Golan Heights Regional Council. Residents were stuck in the kibbutz after some 25 centimeters of snow accumulated overnight. Police said roads in the northern Golan remained closed on Thursday afternoon.
In the central and southern Golan there was no heavy snowfall, so schools remained open as usual, the regional council said.
The heavy rains and winds also affected landings at Ben- Gurion Airport on Thursday, resulting in a number of incoming flight delays. One plane that did not have enough fuel to circle while waiting out the weather was forced to land in Cyprus, before refueling to return to Ben-Gurion.
Meanwhile, the Israel Electric Corporation warned that due to the stormy weather, electricity demands would likely rise, and power production reserves were low – standing at only about 300 megawatts. The IEC therefore asked that members of the public avoid operating highenergy- consuming devices between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m.
While teams are still working to fix all damage caused by trees falling on power lines, the IEC urged the public to call *103 if any electrical emergencies occur.