First snow on Mount Hermon as winter weather finally arrives

Rain spreads from the north across the country; danger of flooding in low-lying areas

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

Illustrative photo of the Mount Hermon ski resort, on the Golan Heights, February 3, 2016. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of the Mount Hermon ski resort, on the Golan Heights, February 3, 2016. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)

Snow, albeit mixed with rain, began to fall on Mount Hermon in the north of the country Thursday as unusually late winter weather finally arrived in Israel.

Rain that began in northern regions overnight spread during the day to central regions, with showers falling in Tel Aviv and some drops also falling in Jerusalem.

By mid-afternoon, some 20-30 millimeters (nearly an inch) of rain had fallen since the morning in the Galilee and 40 millimeters (1.5 inches) at the top of Mount Hermon, home to Israel’s only ski resort, the Hebrew-language Walla News website reported.

The Israel Water Authority said the Sea of Galilee rose by one centimeter following the rains. The water level in the lake, the lowest fresh water body on earth, is seen as a symbolic gauge to the amount of rainfall the country gets each year. Currently at resting at -213.83 meters (750 feet) below sea level, the water level is five meters below the lake’s maximum capacity.

Weather forecasts predict high winds and more wet weather on Friday. Police issued a warning to drivers to not make any unnecessary journeys and to “maintain safety rules for winter driving: Check that tires and pressures are as required, that windshield wipers are in order, and to clean windshields to enable proper visual conditions and cleaning vehicle headlights.”

Rains were expected over the coming 24 hours from the north, reaching to the Negev region in the south, accompanied by thunderstorms and strong winds. There was a danger of flooding in coastal and low-lying regions and the possibility of flash-floods in the Negev.

Saturday is expected to remain cloudy with a slight rise in temperatures.

The rain follows an unseasonable dry spell that enabled forest fires to wreak havoc in many areas of the country last week. While many of the fires were the result of negligence or natural causes, police said others were deliberately started by Arab Israeli and Palestinian arsonists for nationalist reasons in what officials called terrorist acts.

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