Snow in Jerusalem
Snow in Connecticut in January is to be expected. Children need the snow days off from school as do teachers. The plow companies need the business as do the auto-repair shops and, of course, there is the chance for people to make money by shoveling snow. But snow in Jerusalem is unusual and provides a lot of fun. Israeli President Shimon Peres who is 89, made a snowman and got great media coverage as did Benjamin Netanyahu’s snowball fight with members of his family. Schools were closed after a record breaking 20 cm, or 8 inches of snow, fell on the city. Haredim, praying at the Wall, had snow on their black hats. And plastic bags became sleds. Jerusalem is hilly so the snowfall paralyzed transportation around the city and from Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport to the capital. How unusual is snow in the capital city of Jerusalem? Their forecast for today, in mid-January, is for a high of 57 and a low 9 degrees above the freezing mark. Predicted highs for the next three days are 59, 61, and 64 degrees. But records show that a significant snowfall can be predicted every 7 to 8 years. The area around Jerusalem is considered dessert and average rainfall here is 4.2 inches a year. The definition of a dessert area is under 10 inches of rainfall. This snowfall started as moist air from the Mediterranean Sea which forms part of Israel border. Somehow no matter how much warning precedes a storm in our state, it usually comes as a shock. In Jerusalem, extra trains and buses were pressed into service to discourage people from driving their own cars. There were 100 snowplows ready and a salt mixture to cut down on sliding vehicles and pedestrian falls. The cost of fighting the storm was estimated as 300m shekels. But Jerusalem Mayor, Nir Barkat ,was happy to have the city covered in the white stuff. My niece, Chava, said when her family went to bed, there was a minimal amount of snow on the ground and the flakes had stopped falling. Therefore, the family was shocked and delighted to see there was enough on the ground to play in and later come indoors with icy hands. Snow is a novelty in places like Jerusalem and close to a nuisance around Waterbury.