Jerusalem locked down by fiercest snowstorm in years

December 14, 2013 - 3:19:32 am

A Palestinian with a snowman outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem yesterday.

JERUSALEM: The hilltop city of Jerusalem was paralysed yesterday by its fiercest snowstorm in years, with its mayor calling out the army to help stranded motorists.

“We are battling a storm of rare ferocity,” Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement as snow in the Holy City piled up to around 37 centimetres (15 inches), while outlying areas had much deeper drifts. Main roads into the Holy City, which climb around 795 metres (2,600 feet) above sea level were closed and police appealed to drivers not to attempt the journey. Temperatures in the city were predicted to reach a high of two degrees celsius (35.6 Fahrenheit) during the day and drop below freezing at night, with the snowfall that started on Thursday continuing into Saturday.

Schools were closed for a second day yesterday and most residents appeared to be heeding advice to stay at home. “We have asked people living in Jerusalem not to drive in private cars unless they have four-wheel-drive because of the danger on icy streets,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. He said that by mid-morning police had been called to help about 1,500 drivers in the city and on the roads leading to it.

He said about 1,000 stranded travellers were given shelter at the Jerusalem International Conference Centre on the city’s western edge.AFP

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