Israel is in the midst of a major storm. Jerusalem has accumulated more than 30 centimetres of snow since yesterday. That is a respectable amount even by Canadian standards. Unfortunately, Jerusalemites and, Israelis in general, are not nearly as well equipped to deal with snow as Canadians. Many Israelis took their families on car trips to Jerusalem to see the snow. En route, the snow was so heavy that traffic ground to a standstill and cars became stuck in the snow. Police and fire crews have indicated that they have rescued more than 1,500 people from stranded cars.
Schools are closed in Jerusalem and many houses are not heated properly. There have been power failures across the city and many gas stations are closed, as well as all kinds of other businesses. Apparently, it's the largest snow storm Israel has had in more than 50 years. A stalwart few have continued to pray at the Kotel despite the weather conditions...
Meanwhile, there has been snow in other parts of Israel including the Golan Heights. But most of the rest of the country has been dealing with a major rain and wind storm.
In Ra'anana, the temperatures have hovered around 6-8 degrees, while we have been dealing with a major thunderstorm and blowing winds. Last night and early this morning, there was sleet but so far, no snow.
After raining on and off for a few days, the rain has continued constantly since last night.
Even by Canadian standards, this would be a significant storm. But the major difference is that homes and businesses are simply not set up to deal with it. For example, we stopped at the supermarket this morning. There was no heating. People were dressed in sweaters, jackets and gloves. The cashiers were wearing gloves and hats. We asked the customer service manager - who told us that you can't heat a supermarket - it would affect too many of the items in the store, he said. Just after we paid, the store suffered a power failure and announced (though its emergency back up system) that it would only be accepting cash and no credit cards until the power returned.
Two nearby gas stations were closed due to the spreading power failure and some of the nearby intersections were running on flashing yellow lights.
The storm is expected to last another day or two. The good news is that once the storm is over, temperatures will probably rise fairly quickly and things will get back to normal for a country not used to dealing with these types of storms. The other good news is that Israel is always happy to accumulate as much rain water as possible, which will hopefully cause the Kinneret, Israel's only fresh water lake, to rise from its low levels.
It looks like we will be eating Shabbat dinner with sweaters - and maybe gloves....but keeping dry inside.