Wettest November since 1994 causes flooding, damage in coastal cities

Storms expected to let up over the weekend

Flooded streets in the northern city of Nahariya on November 26, 2020. (Screen capture: Twitter)
Flooded streets in the northern city of Nahariya on November 26, 2020. (Screen capture: Twitter)

Heavy rainfall on Thursday caused extensive flooding and damage in several Israeli coastal cities, with the continued downpours making this November the rainiest in some parts of the country in over a quarter century.

Among the worst hit areas were Hod Hasharon, Herzliya, Ashkelon and Nahariya, all of which have recorded over 100 millimeters of rain since a bout of stormy weather began Wednesday. Dozens of people trapped in cars or buildings by the rainfall were rescued Thursday, according to Channel 12 news.

“I think we are very lucky that there were no casualties,” Hod Hasharon Mayor Amir Kohavi told Channel 13 news. “It’s customary to blame the infrastructure, but in the last two years millions of shekels were invested in infrastructure.”

Kohavi blamed the flooding on climate change and “unrestrained building” in recent years that he said reduced drainage areas.

However, some Hod Hasharon residents said the municipality was at fault.

“The drains were clogged, I’m sure,” Itzik Gutterman told the Ynet news site after his car got stuck on a flooded street, requiring his son to come and rescue him.

The northern city of Nahariya also saw major flooding and some 10 people trapped in ground floor apartments were rescued, Channel 12 said.

With Thursday’s rain, some areas of Israel experienced the wettest month of November since 1994.

The storm front was expected to let up in the coming days, with only intermittent rain forecast on Friday and Saturday.

Last winter, downpours in northern Israel broke a 51-year record within a two-week period. The generous rainfall in the north raised the level of the Sea of Galilee to its highest in decades and ended a five-year drought that plagued the country.

The Agriculture Ministry announced in August that it would be investing NIS 146 million ($43 million) in an upgrade of drainage facilities across the country, although it was unclear how much had been implemented ahead of the winter.

Scientists have warned that climate change will lead to less rain in Israel but to more extreme downpour events.

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