Schools throughout the Jerusalem area are closed Thursday, with buses & light rail not running. Snow expected to fall until afternoon.
By Annie Lubin
Forget Jerusalem of gold, because after the snowfall that began Wednesday and is expected to last until Thursday afternoon, the city should be called Jerusalem of white.
Residents of the capital woke up to more than 10 cm of snow which accumulated overnight. The snow left its mark throughout the center of the city, but the higher neighborhoods, such as French Hill and Mount Herzl, experienced the most amount of accumulation
The Jerusalem Municipality opened a special operations room to address any transportation problems which may arise due to the weather.
In order to reduce the number of cars on the city streets and to prevent slipping, residents were encouraged to rely on public transportation and the city announced residents would be able to use city buses and the light rail, free of charge, until 14:00, by which time all roads are expected to be be cleared.
However, due to the heavy accumulation and and continuing snow fall, public buses and the light rail in Jerusalem are not running as of this morning. The Egged bus company said it would restart service on main roads only at some point before noon.
Classes all over the city will not be held today, giving the children of Jerusalem a rare snow day. The Education Ministry has opened a situation room to help get information out to parents regarding school closures. The contact number is (02) 622-2211.
The Traffic Division said that following the heavy snow falls in Jerusalem, Highway 1 was closed to traffic in both directions, between Jerusalem and Latrun, but reopened four hours later and experienced extremely heavy traffic in both directions. It is currently closed between Sakharov Gardens and Ben Shemen. Route 443 was also closed at night due to a buildup of ice, but reopened several hours later. It is now closed to traffic from the Shilat junction towards Jerusalem.
The Gush Etzion Council announced that all access to roads in the area was blocked following the accumulation and are now closed until further notice. All schools in the area are also closed.
The Jerusalem Court has also announced it will be closed today, operation only on an emergency basis. For More Information, contact 077-2703333.
Snow also covered large parts of the Golan Heights and the Galilee. 1.2 m of snow accumulated on Mount Hermon, disrupting cable car operations. It is still not clear if the site will be opened to visitors this weekend. Many schools in the north will also be closed Thursday.
Snow falls were even reported in the Negev early Thursday morning in Mitzpe Ramon, Sde Boker and Dimona.