Israel Railways took the unprecedented step of running trains for the first time into and out of Jerusalem during Shabbat to aid people escape the worst of the storm.
By Ryan Jones
The massive three-day winter storm that slammed Israel over the weekend finally came to an end on Sunday, though its effects were still being felt throughout the country, especially in Jerusalem and the Galilee.
During the height of the storm, hundreds of people were stranded on the roads leading in and out of Jerusalem, and thousands fled the capital via train. In fact, Israel Railways took the unprecedented step of running trains into and out of Jerusalem during Shabbat to help people escape the worst of the storm.
In Jerusalem, thousands of homes were without power, many of them for over 48 hours as fallen trees had snapped many lines. The situation was similar in the north of the country. Even on Sunday morning, with clear skies and the sun shining, over 19,000 homes in Israel remained disconnected from the power grid.
Public transport was also slow to come back online. With well over half a meter (two feet) of snow in most parts of Jerusalem over the weekend, much ice remained by Sunday morning, leaving the capital virtually cut off from the rest of the country. Black ice was a major threat, even on streets that appeared to be clear, and the public was warned to refrain from using private vehicles throughout the morning.
Another unusual site during the storm was the presence of IDF armored personnel carriers on the streets of Jerusalem. With so many drivers stranded and freezing, and normal rescue vehicles unable to come to their aid, the military was called in to aid the situation.
Every year, the residents of Jerusalem hope and even pray for a bit of snow. But, as they say, you can certainly have too much of a good thing, and everyone in this city is breathing a sigh of relief now that the storm has passed.
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