Storm “Elpis” arrived in Israel on Wednesday morning after dropping snow and rain on Greece, Cyprus and Turkey, bringing joy to Israeli children and angst to drivers on the roads.
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Snow fell during the day in the Golan Heights on Mount Hermon and in the Upper Galilee, but by nightfall had also begun to drop the white stuff on the capital city of Jerusalem as well as in the Binyamin and Gush Etzion regions.
School was canceled for Thursday in the Golan Heights and in Jerusalem, where the municipality urged residents Wednesday night to stay inside and not to leave unless absolutely necessary.
In Rosh Hanikra, Haifa, and Zichron Ya’akov, residents found themselves contending with a deluge. The Kinneret Cities Association ordered all beaches closed due to high winds (60-70 kilometers per hour / 37-43 miles per hour) and the heavy rain.
Snow is expected to pile up as high as 15 centimeters in Jerusalem (six inches), according to the Israel Meteorology Service.
Due to the inclement weather, the tunnel road between Jerusalem and Gush Etzion was closed to traffic for a short while, as was Highway 1 – from Sha’ar Hagai to Jerusalem — on the other side of the capital.
Intercity bus routes were temporarily suspended, but Israel Railways announced it would continue to operate its line between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv throughout the night.
In some areas of Binyamin, where residents of Beit El and Ofra reported the snow had begun, forecasters said drifts could reach as high as 20 centimeters (eight inches) by Thursday.
In the higher elevations of Gush Etzion, there could be as much as 40 centimeters (16 inches) by Thursday afternoon, forecasters said.
A number of roads were also shut down in northern Israel as well.
In the northern Negev — even as far east as Arad, near the southern end of the Dead Sea — rain that began in the afternoon alternated with hail and gale-force winds that continued into the night. It was expected to continue into Thursday as well.