Forget the arctic, Scotland has 421 words for snow and yet in Arabic the word ‘talj’ covers snow, ice and everything in-between. Go figure, I guess it’s just not needed that much.
Last week it snowed in Jerusalem for the first time in six years much to the delight of young kids and the horror of anyone without proper heating in their houses. Many of the old Jerusalem stone buildings are designed to keep the inside cool and have no central heating, making them a chilly prospect when the temperature plummets.
Plummet is the best word really as we were still wearing t-shirts on Monday, and snow seemed unthinkable. By Tuesday it was ‘winter jacket’ weather again and on Wednesday the storm started with a vengeance. In the UK when it snows it is silent and blanketing. Here it came with the racket of howling winds and thunder and lightning all at the same time. I don’t know if that is typical, but it was an unusual combination. There was also some hail and sleet thrown in for good measure but why split hairs, it’s all talj!
The internationals amongst us were generally wondering what the fuss was all about in the days leading up to the storm, but when it isn’t common, there is not the same infrastructure to deal with it. That means that roads close instead of being cleared and gritted and accidents are much more common. This is both a product of drivers not being used to wet and icy road conditions and some slightly dubious ancient cars on the roads.
A Palestinian twist on a snowman is to build it on the roof of your car and if you want to be really culturally appropriate, to give it a facemask. I loved this detail. It seems the storm covered much of the Middle East with some amazing photos emerging from across the region.
There is currently a complicated traffic light system in place in Jerusalem to determine which schools can re-open after the latest COVID-19 closures. The current rules in our area are that kids can only be taught outside, so it was a double blow for some (desperate parents!) that the snow came last week, further prolonging online learning.
On Thursday morning, I drove up to the Mount of Olives to take in the view over the city and it was nice to see other excited people posing for photos with the snow dusted gold roof of the Dome of the Rock in the background. The snow had turned to sloppy wet rain by this time and we didn’t hang around long. A misty fog hung low over the city like a giant cobweb.
By Friday morning the snow was gone with just one icy chunk left in the garden where Robbie the snowman had been. It is not uncommon for the temperature to swing by 20 degrees in a matter of a few days and we will probably be back in t-shirts this week. I like this unpredictable edge to the weather that keeps you on your toes….as long as it’s not a result of climate change.