UPDATES 5:00 pm Israel time Friday, December 13
The storm rocking Israel continues unabated. Freeways, highways, routes, roads are closed everywhere. 60,000 homes currently have no electricity. Finally, the remainder of those stranded in cars between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have been rescued.
MADA has treated numerous people for hypothermia and frostbite. The concern is that many elderly people are in their apartments without heat and could be subject to life threatening situations.
Here in Ashdod, we’ve had a very strange day with 30 minute periods of intense sleet and hail followed by 30 minute periods of darkly overcast skies and even occasional sunshine. The weather forecast for the next 7 hours here is for snow–but currently it is still sleeting.
In fact, the worst weather is forecast for tonight all over the country.
Shabbat Shalom from Israel!
Special Notice: Friday, December 13 2013:
Due to the massive storm currently hitting Israel, today’s blog will consist of weather updates. There are electrical outages throughout the country, including here in Ashdod, as trees have fallen on power lines from the fierce winds and heavy snow. At this moment, hail is falling on your humble servant’s house in the midst of a violent thunderstorm (hail and sleet have now been falling off and on since 7 am.
Updates 11:00 am Israel time:
*More than 1500 motorists have now been rescued from cars stuck on Highway 1 and Highway 443. More remain stranded. Almost a foot of snow has fallen in Jerusalem.
The road report:
Highway 1 blocked in both directions in and out of Jerusalem. Route 5/505 blocked between Giti Junction and Ariel. Route 60 blocked at the Ariel Junction. Route 375 blocked in both directions at Tzur Hadassah junction. Route 386 blocked near Mt Meron. Route 395 blocked near Raziel. Route 425 blocked in both directions near Abu Ghosh. Highway 436 blocked at the intersection of Nabi Samuel and Givat Ze’ev. Highway 443 completely blocked.
Road 8900 blocked between the Kineret and Tzfat. Route 90 blocked near the Dead Sea hotels. Highway 10 blocked, as are Highways 98, 959, and 241.
Updates 7:30 am Israel time:
*The main roads into and out of Jerusalem (Road 1 and Road 443) are closed until at least Saturday morning. There are reports of motorists who have been stranded in the freezing cold on those roads for at least the last 12 hours.
The mayor of Jerusalem has called out the Border Guards and IDF to assist in rescue of stranded motorists and Jerusalem residents without power. Also, the mayor has asked that people with 4×4 vehicles assist in the rescue effort. Approximately 550 people have been extricated so far, and 365 people have been treated by MADA in the Jerusalem area.
Numerous other roads and bridges are closed throughout the country. For example in the north, the road between Rosh Pina and Tzfat is closed. Here in the south, the main road near Ofakim is closed due to flooding.
*Snowfall totals in Jerusalem have already reached 10 cm and are expected to increase dramatically through the day and evening as the storm intensifies. Gush Etzion near Bethlehem has had about 20 cm of snow thus far. Snow is predicted today for Mitzpe Ramon and Dimona.
*Rainfall totals are dramatic. Beersheva had 71 mm of rain yesterday–the most in the last 100 years.
More updates will appear later this morning.