A massive winter storm was in full swing on Wednesday and had already caused the closure of several roads in northern Israel and broken precipitation records. The worst of the weather was still to come as the storm was set to last for the rest of the week.
Israel’s emergency, rescue and medical services were gearing up for the storm since late Tuesday, which is set to bring snow to Jerusalem for the first time in years and has already brought up to 15cm of snow in the Golan Heights.
With the exception of the Negev, where only a few millimeters of rain fell so far, all the meteorological service's measuring stations recorded record-breaking, double-digit precipitation. Meteorologists also said the amount of snowfall recorded so far on the Golan Heights has not been seen in years.
The settlement of Karnei Shomron in the West Bank has taken the lead, with 61mm of rain in the past 24 hours. In Haifa at least 30mm of rain fell in the past day, in Jerusalem 24mm and in Tel Aviv 15.
In northern Israel, so far at least nine routes have been blocked to traffic: 97, 91, 98, 99, 866, 899, 959 and 978.
The entrance to the city of Safed has also been blocked for vehicles. "The city is blocked," said Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat, who called on the residents not to leave the house. "Do not leave your homes. Let us do the work, the whole city is covered in snow."
Police have called on the public to refrain from travelling on northern roads and minimize non-essential travel to the area.
Ynet meteorologist Danny Rup said the swift drop in temperatures quickly turned rainfall into snow or hail in northern part of the country as well as Jerusalem, where temperatures set to drop to only 3 degrees Celsius later in the day.
Rup said that forecasts show that towards the evening hours, more areas around the country will be covered in white, including mountains in central Israel.
A Jerusalem Municipality official said they are prepared for the snowfall and all possible consequences. "The municipality is prepared, there are about 200 engineering tools throughout the city that are just waiting to clear the snow from major routes."
The official called on drivers to avoid driving in the snow in the city. "We are prepared to pick up vehicles that will get stuck but hope it does not happen."