Storms buffet region, bringing power cuts and flooded roads

Meteorological Service warns of further flooding overnight amid heavy rainfall, lightning and thunderstorms; Gaza teen dies after touching electric pole

Lightning striking the Ramon Airport in southern Israel on October 27, 2019. (screen capture: Twitter/Ofer Lefler)
Lightning striking the Ramon Airport in southern Israel on October 27, 2019. (screen capture: Twitter/Ofer Lefler)

Power outages were experienced in central Israel and roads in the south were flooded Saturday evening as a bout of stormy weather battered the country.

The blackout, which reportedly was caused by a problem with a power line, was felt mostly in Tel Aviv.

The Israel Electric Company said power would be restored after 11 p.m.

The loss of power came as rain, thunder and lightning storms hit the area.

Due to flooding caused by the rains throughout the day in southern Israel, parts of Route 40 near the town of Mitzpe Ramon were closed, as was a segment of Route 90 in the Arava Valley.

A Palestinian man holds a child under an umbrella during rainfall in Gaza City, October 26, 2019. (AP Photo/ Hatem Moussa)

In the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian teenager was electrocuted after touching an electric pole outside his home during heavy rains.

Local emergency crews identified the boy Saturday as Mahmoud al-Belbisi, 16.

Palestinian authorities in the coastal enclave said they were prepared for a rare hurricane-like weather system that was expected to hit the eastern part of the Mediterranean on Saturday. The system lessened but still resulted in heavy rain.

Gaza, ruled by the Hamas terror group and blockaded by Israel and Egypt to prevent arms smuggling, has rundown infrastructure and residents are vulnerable to such dangers.

Health officials said the teenager touched the electric pole in a puddle and died immediately. Photos showed people using ropes and wood sticks to drag the body away from the pole.

Israel’s Meteorological Service warned of further flooding in the south overnight and Sunday. It also forecast rain and possible thunderstorms for the north and center of the country Saturday night and into the next day.

Earlier Saturday, the InDNegev music festival being held in the Eshkol Regional Council ended two hours early due to the weather, with the final acts canceled.

The storm coincides with the official arrival of winter in Israel as clocks turn back one hour overnight Saturday-Sunday, marking the end of daylight savings time. At 2 a.m. overnight Saturday-Sunday, Israelis need to wind their clocks back to 1 a.m. again.

The storm was part of the “medicane” that made landfall in Egypt earlier but which appeared to be decreasing in strength as it headed east.

Tropical-like cyclones in the Mediterranean are a rare meteorological phenomena that are observed only every few years. On a few occasions, the storms have reached the force of a Category 1 hurricane.

On Friday night, Channel 12 weather forecaster Ilanit Adler said that the coming days were “difficult to forecast.”

Ahead of the storm, officials in the Gaza Strip declared a state of emergency that will stay in effect until Saturday evening. Several municipalities in southern Israel also made preparations for the storm, including opening hotlines and emergency centers.

Israel’s national electric company advised people to remove any objects from their balconies and rooftops that were susceptible to being blown away or damaged by the storm.

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