In a change from diplomatic, security or political stories, Israel’s weather is making headlines as the country grinds to a halt under a deluge of rain. It’s definitely a good time to check out the weather forecast for the coming days, particularly if you are an Israeli.
So yesterday we looked at the Weather App that comes pre-installed on Windows 8, Microsoft’s latest operating system.
Powered by the Bing search engine, the app lets you find out the weather for many Israeli cities including Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beersheba, Eilat and many others.
Even cities over the Green Line such as Modi’in Illit, Efrat are available, notably referred to as located in “Hagada Hama’ Aravit, Israel,” the Hebrew transliteration for the “West Bank.”
There was, however, one city that you could not find the weather for: Jerusalem.
Jerusalems in the United States, New Zealand and Belgium appeared but not one entry for Jerusalem in Israel. We’ve seen cases in the past where, for example, Yahoo Weather divided Jerusalem into “West Jerusalem” and “East Jerusalem” but we’ve never seen a weather application where Jerusalem simply doesn’t exist.
Jerusalem does, however, appear to exist in the Bing Weather App as a region. A search for the town of Bet Shemesh refers to “Bet Shemesh, Jerusalem, Israel” evidently placing the town in the Jerusalem region. So why if Jerusalem warrants a region, didn’t it appear as a city in its own right?
Interestingly, no major Palestinian towns turn up in a weather search. No Ramallah, Jericho, Bethlehem or Jenin. Could it be that Microsoft Bing was attempting to avoid any controversy that could arise from geographic references to places that are located in disputed territory?
The explanation that we were given was somewhat less interesting.
According to the weather app, the data is supplied by WDT – Weather Decision Technologies. We contacted WDT and asked why there was no data for Jerusalem. WDT claimed that “This was an intermittent issue which we have fixed now in our location database.”
We may never know if there was more to this than we were led to believe but the bottom line is that “Jerusalem, Israel” is now available on the weather app just in time for a predicted snowfall in the holy city.