A fierce winter storm that has been raging since Friday continued to pound the country Monday, and the Israel Meteorological Service predicts that this week could bring precipitation equal to the average rainfall for the entire month of January. Strong winds and heavy rain swept the country, and the upper region of Mount Hermon was blanketed by a heavy 40-centimeter layer of snow, with 20 centimeters falling overnight. Since the weekend, the Sea of Galilee rose 17 centimeters, and winds of 60-80 km/h (37-50 mph) were reported, with gusts of up to 120 km/h (75 mph).
The storm is expected to continue Tuesday, with flood warnings and warnings of sand storms in the south. Snowfall is predicted for higher altitudes, including possibly in Jerusalem. A sharp drop in temperatures is predicted for Wednesday, with continued rain, hail and snow. The storm is expected to weaken on Thursday, although it is still predicted to be very cold, with snowfall continuing in mountainous areas and flooding in lower areas.
Here’s how The Times of Israel gave a blow-by-blow account of the storm on Monday, in the liveblog below.
In Haifa, a power failure causes traffic lights to fail at the heavily trafficked Danya intersection, leading to congestion throughout the city.
The Israel Train Service instructs its conductors to use slower-than-normal speeds due to danger from fallen branches and power lines on the tracks. On Sunday, train service was temporarily halted in Tel Aviv, Haifa and Netanya due to flooding.
Heavy winds felled many trees in Jerusalem overnight, including this pine, which blocked the passage from Emek Refaim Street to Masaryk Street in Jerusalem’s German Colony neighborhood.
The Ayalon River, which runs through Tel Aviv, is flooded, and the Herzliya train station, which was flooded on Monday, remains closed.
Two people are moderately injured when a tree falls on their car at the Magen Junction on Route 232 in the Western Negev. The two are evacuated by a Magen David Adom team to the Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.
In Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, a man is hit in the back by a falling tree. He is treated by MDA personnel on the scene.
Traffic lights out along Route 40 at Elad Junction, Route 4 at Sharon Junction and along routes 412 and 461.
Route 804 closed to traffic due to flooding. Route 211 between Kibbutz Tzelem and Kibbutz Revivim closed due to sand.
A plastic roof blows off a middle-school in Haifa, falling to the school courtyard. The school is closed for repairs.
50 cm of snow is reported on the higher reaches of Mt. Hermon, which authorities say will remain closed until at least Thursday.
A downed power cable in Holon at the corner of Histadrut and Shenker streets is being repaired by Israel Electric Company workers while police officers redirect the backed up traffic.
Fallen trees block traffic on Ben Gurion Street in Ramat Gan and on Highway 652, between Pardes Hannah and Binyamina. Route 889 near Hurfish Junction closed due to flooding.
In Netanya, a falling tree severs several power cables and falls on a house, leading to a power outage in the Neve Itamar neighborhood. Fire crews and electric company workers are on the scene.
The Azrieli Mall in Modi’in is evacuated due to flooding in the lower floor and parking garage that caused heavy damage. Mall workers are attempting to clear out the water.The same mall flooded earlier this winter during heavy rains.
Firefighters evacuate a woman from her house in the northern town of Kiryat Shmona after she is trapped by flooding.
The Temple Mount is closed to non-Muslim visitors due to wind hazards and fallen trees, Israel National News reports.
Israel Radio reports that Israel Electric Company technicians are working on fixing tens of downed power lines throughout the country, most caused by falling trees. Communities affected include Ra’anana, Holon, Herzliya, Haifa, Bat Yam, Netanya, Rishon Lezion, Dimona, and Beersheba. Mevaseret Zion schools are closed due to a power outage.
The heavy rainfall has flooded 20,000 dunams (4,942 acres) of farmland in the Hula Valley, affecting wheat, carrot, onion and lentil crops, Walla news reports. The Galilee Development Company, collectively owned by 33 kibbutzim in the Upper Galilee, estimates that the damage will run into millions of shekels.
Readers and Times of Israel staff sent in pictures of the weather in Jerusalem.
A man, 25, was lightly injured in the head when a tree branch fell on him, near the train station in Pardes Hannah. After being treated by paramedics at the scene, he was hospitalized for further examination. Heads up out there!
Times of Israel blogger Benji Lovitt reports that Jaffa Road, usually one of the most bustling streets in Jerusalem, is almost entirely empty of pedestrians.
The storm is raging in the West Bank too: Twenty homes have been flooded in Nablus, strong winds in Ramallah have knocked out communications antennas, and several Tulkarm streets are closed due to floods, Ynet News reports.
A man is slightly injured when a tree falls on his car on Moshe Dayan Street in the coastal city of Ashdod, south of Tel Aviv. An MDA team evacuates him to Kaplan Hospital in nearby Rehovot.
Israel Radio reports that train traffic throughout the country has resumed.
Times of Israel editor Ilan Ben Zion took these pictures of a car crushed by a tree in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Nahlaot.
The Sea of Galilee has now risen some 17 centimeters since Friday, Israel Radio reports. The Israel Weather Authority expects the level to rise another 30 cm. before the storm lets up.
Traffic on Ben-Zvi Road in Tel Aviv is blocked in both direction due to a fallen tree. Police are redirecting drivers.