Jerusalem was blanketed in snow on Wednesday, a rare occurrence for the Mediterranean city that forced highway closures to the north. Major roads to Jerusalem were blocked by authorities as snow began to fall and residents in the nearby city of Safed, in the northern district of Israel, were told to prepare for possibly three days without power, according to Haaretz.
The city was expected to get between 20 and 30 centimeters (8 to 11 inches) of snow during the storm. In general, Jerusalem is ill-equipped to deal with harsh winter weather, as such storms are infrequent. Authorities have said the city lacks the proper infrastructure to quickly clear roads, making driving along the mountainous roads particularly dangerous. “If you are required to travel under these conditions, ensure your vehicle has a full tank of fuel,” the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv warned earlier this week. “Pack warm winter clothing, boots, water, shovel, and emergency food supplies in the event you are stranded.”
The snow followed high winds and heavy rains Tuesday night that swept through Israel. Schools were closed Wednesday, the Jerusalem Post reported. The Hebrew University of Jerusalem also canceled classes.
Snow was also reported in several areas in the north of Israel, including Golan Heights and Safed. In central Israel, trees and power lines were knocked down as heavy rain bombarded parts of Tel Avev and Petah Tikva. Over 5,500 homes were without power, according to Y Net News. The snow is expected to let up on Thursday.
A snowstorm that battered Jerusalem in 2014 was the city’s most severe winter storm in over 100 years, according to Israel Today. Large portions of the city were cut off from electricity, hundreds of vehicles became stranded on highways, and several injuries were reported.
— Israel ישראל (@Israel) January 7, 2015
Weather update- PHOTO: Jerusalem city's tractors clearing snow on highway 443. pic.twitter.com/ISCR1O3M6E
— Israel News & Alerts (@israelnewsalert) January 7, 2015
— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) January 6, 2015
— Israel News Feed (@IsraelHatzolah) January 7, 2015
— Ynetnews (@ynetnews) January 7, 2015