Israel is preparing for a winter storm, the strongest in seven years. According to meteorologists, the storm will begin in the evening of February 16 and will last for about two days. Thunderstorms and heavy rains are expected. Heavy snowfall and wind speeds of up to 80 km/h (22 meters per second) are expected in the mountainous areas including Jerusalem, Safed and the Golan. On the Mediterranean coast of the country and near the resort of Eilat on the Red Sea, a severe storm is possible. All this will be accompanied by a sharp drop in air temperature, reports the Israeli news portal Ynet.
Weather forecasters believe the storm will be the strongest since December 2013. Many cities and towns in Israel will not hold classes in schools and kindergartens on February 17. The municipality of Mevaseret Tzion was the first to report the cancellation of classes, followed by a similar message to residents of settlements in the northern Golan Heights.
The city of Jerusalem expects snow cover to be 10 to 15 cm thick. The mayor’s office of the city of three world religions mobilized 220 special vehicles to clean the snow and clear the main highways. They are distributed in several areas of the city. The main task of the snow-removal equipment is to prevent the blocking of important traffic arteries, first of all, streets leading to hospitals. The police and all emergency services in Jerusalem are put in emergency mode.
The mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Leon, appealed to Jerusalemites to refrain from driving their private vehicles during the storm. He warned that the road surface would be icy and every trip in such conditions is fraught with the risk of an accident.
The Israel Defense Forces are also preparing for the winter storm. Lieutenant Colonel Eldad Benino, responsible for the logistics of the 91st Division, deployed near the northern border, reported that provisions and salt reserves have been delivered to military bases and outposts to dissolve the snow and ice, electrical wiring has been checked, and the insulation of buildings has been checked.
Major Omri Levy of the 769th Brigade stationed near the Lebanese border stressed that no soldier would sleep in an unheated room.
From Tuesday evening until next Thursday morning, Israel is expecting heavy rains, thunderstorms, hurricane-force winds, and snowfall in the mountainous areas. The inclement weather will be accompanied by a sharp drop in temperatures. Meteorologists expect the storm to stop on February 18, but precipitation, including snow at more than 800 meters above sea level, will continue for the rest of the week.