Galilee hilltops covered in snow since morning; weather poses stark problem for millions of Syrian refugees over the border
(SOURCE) Heavy rains and high winds swept Israel Tuesday night and through Wednesday as a major winter storm descended upon the country. Hail and snow were reported in the north since early Wednesday, and spread to elevated peaks in the center of the country by mid-morning, with brief power outages reported in various parts of the country. Stay with The Times of Israel for updates as we blog the extreme weather through the day.
Jerusalem hospitals on heightened snow readiness
Hadassah’s two Jerusalem hospitals, at Ein Karem in the city’s south and on Mt. Scopus in the north, are in a heightened state of readiness to receive injured or ill during the storm, the organization says.
As the heaviest snow yet begins to fall on Jerusalem, the municipality says emergency crews will open the roads to the city’s hospitals before any others.
Ben Gurion control tower struck by lightning
Lightning hits the control tower at Israel’s main airport, Ben Gurion International Airport outside Tel Aviv.
According to the Airports Authority, the strike damaged some systems, but did not endanger planes arriving or taking off from the airport.
Flights may be delayed by an hour or more as technical crews work to repair the damaged systems.
Ramat Gan safari animals seek shelter from storm
The Ramat Gan safari closed to the public with the start of the heavy rains this morning. Workers moved the hay intended to feed the safari’s large herbivores under awnings so the animals may feed out of the rain.
“The hay is more than food, it also helps the animals stay warm,” the safari said in a statement.
Many animals took advantage of the awnings to escape the storm.
“Even many of the hippopotamuses left the lake in order to hide under the awnings,” the statement explains.
Snowfall brings respite in Syrian civil war
In Syria, the guns fall silent as snow falls in Aleppo and the capital Damascus and government warplanes remain on the ground because of bad visibility, AP reports.
Snow blankets Syria’s Qassioun Mountain, which overlooks Damascus. The snowfall also brings traffic to a near standstill in the city and prompts the Education Ministry to shutter schools and universities for two days.
Photos emerging from the war-torn city show residents taking a rare respite and playing in the fresh snow.
Two die of exposure in Lebanon snows
In eastern Lebanon, security officials say a Syrian shepherd, Ammar Kamel, 30, and a 7-year-old boy, Majed Badawi, died in the storm Wednesday as they made the dangerous trek in rugged mountains covered with snow from Syria to the Lebanese border town of Chebaa.