Jerusalem Blanketed by Snow as Region Hit With Heavy Rains

Jan. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The biggest snowstorm to hit Jerusalem in more than two decades shut down much of the city today, after four days of heavy rain also caused flood damage and power outages in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

The snow reached 15 to 20 centimeters (6 to 8 inches) in parts of Jerusalem before tapering off in the early afternoon. Roads in and to the city were reopened at midday after being closed off since early morning.

Two Palestinian women were drowned in flash floods in the West Bank yesterday, the Wafa news agency said.

Israeli army rescue units used military helicopters and naval boats to assist people stranded by rising waters at several locations throughout the country.

“The emergency and rescue forces are struggling around the clock in the storm in order to save lives,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an e-mailed statement.

The snowstorm in Jerusalem and other high areas in the north of Israel cost local industry up to 170 million shekels ($45 million), as people were prevented from reaching work, the Manufacturers Association of Israel said in an e-mailed statement. Losses to the economy from flooding elsewhere in the country during the week reached at least 300 million shekels, the association said.

To the north, large areas of Beirut as well as the northern Metn coast are without power and Lebanon’s electricity company is unable to make repairs to restore it because of an ongoing strike by employees, the country’s official National News Agency said today.

Electricite du Liban said in a statement carried by NNA that the cuts were caused by a fault in a cable linking the main stations between Aramoun, south of Beirut, and Horsh Beirut.

To contact the reporter on this story: Calev Ben-David in Jerusalem at cbendavid@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at barden@bloomberg.net