The residents of the Golan Heights in northern Israel woke up Wednesday to a rare image of a thick layer of snow covering the ground as the storm set to move toward Jerusalem.
Israel’s emergency, rescue and medical services were gearing up for a massive winter storm that hit the country late Tuesday and is set to last through Thursday, bringing snow to the capital for the first time in years.
Some communities in the upper part of the Golan were covered in 15 cm (6 inches) of snow in the early morning hours, while those in the lower parts so far received between 3-5 cm of snow, which continues to pile up.
Police said major roads in the area have been closed to traffic while schools in the Golan to remain shut due to weather conditions.
The snow began on the highest peaks around midnight and spread to the rest of the heights overnight.
Temperatures are expected to drop during the course of the day across the country as flood warnings were issued in coastal and low-lying areas.
Wind gusts expected to reach between 80 to 100 kilometers per hour (50-62 miles per hour) and waves forecast to reach eight (26 feet) meters in height.
The Water Authority said the water level in the Sea of Galilee has risen by 1.5 cm since Tuesday and now stands at 209.56 meters below sea level, with the upper level missing another 76 cm of water.
The authority added that residents living in areas where temperatures may drop below 0 Celsius, must leave a water tap dripping to prevent freezing in the pipes, causing cracks.
In Jerusalem that is expecting to see snow later on Wednesday, a tree knocked down by strong wind fell on a public bus in the center of the city. No injuries were reported. Authorities said that schools in the capital will remain open.
In Tel Aviv, an elderly man in his 80s walking with his dog was moderately wounded after being hit by a branch ripped from a tree by strong wind. Magen David Adom team evacuated him to Ichilov Hospital in the city. He is suffering from a broken leg and an injury to his head.
The Israel Nature and Parks Authority announced it will close all hiking paths and rock-climbing sites in the Judean Desert until Friday, fearing floods.
The Education Ministry, meanwhile, said it will suspend all outdoor activities and shut schools in areas impacted by snow or flooding but said it will monitor the situation on the ground and adjust its decisions accordingly and in consultation with local authorities.