Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Israeli Mountain Snow & Sleet

A cold core low pressure center is tracking through Turkey and Syria today, bringing some bursts of snow and sleet to interior sections of the Middle East, including Jerusalem.

Snow in or near Jerusalem is not incredibly uncommon although most events are minor. It last snowed in March 2012 with an inch or two of snow reported in parts of Jerusalem and its suburbs.  A significant snowfall happens more infrequently, once every few years.  Despite a more southern latitude (Jerusalem's latitude is equivalent to Savannah, GA), it is also in a more elevated part of the Middle East as its elevation ranges between 1500 and 2500 feet depending on specific location.

The best setup for them to receive snow is for a cold core low or trough to dig down across Turkey or into Syria, with the associated trough pushing south into Israel.  The farther south that dig, the more optimal the setup for cold and interior snow.  Coastal sections near the Mediterranean get rains but inland areas can pick up a few inches of snow frequently from these storm systems as they move through.  It's a similar setup to what causes snow in Southern California's mountains...the valleys just inland from the Pacific pick up rain while mountainous areas, depending on the amount of cold air available, can get popped with decent snows.

GFS model shows that cold trough digging across Turkey, Israel, and the Middle East.

Radar from this morning (Israel time), shown above, shows the first fingers of moisture pushing across Israel from the west.   Forecasters were predicting a few inches of snow possible in elevated areas around Jerusalem, with a more substantial snow in the offing elevated areas near the Kinneret, or Sea of Galilee.  The Golan Heights could pick up nearly a foot of snow.

Jerusalem's mayor, Nir Barkat, is a true snowstarved individual, being quoted in the Jerusalem Post as saying he was "wishing, hoping and expecting snow, along with all of the children of Jerusalem," while also adding that he enjoys getting into snowball fights with his family.