Person reportedly missing after vehicle overturns in flooded north
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Person reportedly missing after vehicle overturns in flooded north

Emergency services scramble to rescue people trapped in cars on water-logged roads; snowy conditions force school closures on Golan

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Flooding in Nahariya, January 8, 2020. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)
Flooding in Nahariya, January 8, 2020. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

A person was reportedly missing Wednesday after a winter storm hit the north of the country, flooding roads, forcing school closures and cutting off rail services north of Haifa.

In the northern coastal city of Nahariya the rain turned roads into rivers, overturning a car in a pool of water on one street and reportedly trapping people inside. Rescue services rushed to the scene and there were fears for the life of a person who was apparently missing following the incident.

In a separate incident, emergency services rescued 15 children from a flooded kindergarten in the city.

Residents of Nahariya were advised to stay indoors until the storm passed.

Some residents posted videos to social media of the conditions in the city.

Meanwhile, heavy snow fell on the Golan Heights, prompting the Golan Regional Council to order an immediate closure of regional schools while providing buses to transport children back to their home communities. Some tutoring was to be continued locally in the communities until conditions clear.

Ten centimeters (four inches) of snow fell on the Golan overnight with more projected to follow. The Mount Hermon Ski resort, the only one of its kind in the country, was closed to visitors until further notice.

Torrential rain poured on the northern port city of Haifa, with some 50 millimeters (two inches) falling during the morning hours, causing flooding that blocked many streets in the city and surrounding areas. Some drivers and passengers required rescue after their vehicles became trapped on flooded roads. Flooding on railway tracks led Israel Railways to cancel all service north of Haifa Center Hashmona station.

Haifa firefighters reported that all of their crews were called out to deal with flooding issues and that there was increased staff on duty at its call center. The Haifa station said it was considering requesting for backup units from other stations at Hadera and Zvulun.

Videos of water pouring through the streets of Haifa were posted on social media

There were no reports of injuries from the severe conditions.

Fire and rescue services increased the number of staff at call centers as a precaution against a repeat of a weekend incident in which a man and woman drowned to death in a flooded Tel Aviv elevator, despite multiple calls to emergency services for their rescue.

Police and emergency services warned the public to stay away from areas that could become flooded.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority closed some river hiking trails in the north due to the heavy rain and the expectation that some streams would overflow their banks.

The Kinneret Authority, which administers the Sea of Galilee, said that since Tuesday the water level has risen by one centimeter in Israel’s largest freshwater lake. The level was expected to continue rising throughout the day. The water level is currently 211.33 meters below sea level and 2.53 meters below the upper red line, which marks a healthy volume for the lake.

The northern city of Safed was also overwhelmed with rain and video posted to social media showed water streaming down public steps in the hilly northern city.

Meanwhile, central and southern regions were battered by strong winds, with the wet weather forecast to spread to those areas during the afternoon and evening, drenching most areas of the country.

The storm was forecast to continue Thursday with the winds easing off on Friday but rain lasting until Saturday.

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