50 preschoolers rescued by boat in flooded Rehovot as rains lash central Israel
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50 preschoolers rescued by boat in flooded Rehovot as rains lash central Israel

Coastal plain pummeled by most powerful storms since January; key Tel Aviv intersection at a standstill due to water damage to traffic light system

  • Children being rescued by rubber boats from a flooded preschool in Rehovot amid powerful rains, December 6, 2018. (Channel 10 screen capture)
    Children being rescued by rubber boats from a flooded preschool in Rehovot amid powerful rains, December 6, 2018. (Channel 10 screen capture)
  • People walk on rain-soaked Jaffa Road in Jerusalem on December 6, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    People walk on rain-soaked Jaffa Road in Jerusalem on December 6, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Children being rescued by rubber boats from a flooded preschool in Rehovot amid powerful rains, December 6, 2018. (Channel 10 screen capture)
    Children being rescued by rubber boats from a flooded preschool in Rehovot amid powerful rains, December 6, 2018. (Channel 10 screen capture)
  • People walk on rain-soaked Jaffa Street in Jerusalem on December 6, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    People walk on rain-soaked Jaffa Street in Jerusalem on December 6, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Flooded streets in Rehovot amid powerful rains, December 6, 2018. (Hatzalah rescue organization)
    Flooded streets in Rehovot amid powerful rains, December 6, 2018. (Hatzalah rescue organization)

The worst storm system so far this winter struck the coastal plain on Thursday morning, shuttering roads, flooding streets, and forcing the evacuation of a Rehovot preschool by boat.

Despite the dramatic scenes of rescuers shuttling in and out of the area in rubber boats, no one was hurt in the preschool’s evacuation on water-logged Hey Be’iyar Street in the central Israeli city.

At least 50 children and two adults were ferried out of the area.

Meanwhile, one of Tel Aviv’s key intersections, Azrieli Junction, was brought to a standstill when water damage caused the traffic light system in the area to fail.

In Yavne, north of Ashdod, major arteries in the city’s industrial zone, including Hayarkon and Nahal Snir streets, were closed due to flooding.

Throughout the coastal plain, the storm delivered the most water of any storm since January.

The central city of Hadera saw 47 millimeters (1.85 inches) of rainfall on Thursday morning, followed by 35 millimeters (1.38) in Haifa. Tel Aviv saw 23 millimeters. The rains seemed to spend themselves by the time they reached mountaintop Jerusalem, which saw just 1 millimeter’s worth of drizzle by the afternoon.

The rains are expected to continue through Saturday.

Police issued a call Thursday for drivers to take special care to drive slowly on wet roads, and to expect flooding even on elevated intercity highways.

Authorities are also warning thrill-seeking hikers against the practice of “chasing” floods in the riverbeds of the south, which experience flash floods as rains from elsewhere in the region are funneled by steep valleys to spill into the Jordan River and Dead Sea. The floods can come unexpectedly and are sometimes deadly to hikers and wildlife caught in their way.

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