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Israel braces for arrival of major winter storm ‘Carmel’

Minister vows emergency forces will be ready for ‘challenges and surprises’ ahead of Monday’s expected landfall; outdoor school activities canceled, travelers told to avoid parks

United Hatzalah volunteers check their rescue gear in the northern city of Safed on December 19, 2021, as emergency crews were on high alert ahead of winter storm 'Carmel.' (David Cohen/ Flash90)
United Hatzalah volunteers check their rescue gear in the northern city of Safed on December 19, 2021, as emergency crews were on high alert ahead of winter storm 'Carmel.' (David Cohen/ Flash90)

Israel on Sunday was gearing for the arrival of a major winter storm dubbed “Carmel,” which is expected to bring major rainfall and strong winds, causing serious disruptions throughout the country.

Emergency services were readying for various rescue tasks, while local authorities prepared backup generators and trimmed vegetation near powerlines to prevent cuts when the storm makes landfall on Monday.

Police and fire services warned the public to refrain from unnecessary travel during the storm, which is expected to last until Wednesday. They also urged Israelis to avoid underground parking garages and other areas that could experience flooding, amid expectations of up to 150 millimeters (nearly six inches) of rain in some locations.

Along with the rainfall, the weather depression was expected to bring near-gale force winds and high seas.

“We are facing tough days and levels of precipitation that will lead to dangers,” Public Security Minister Omer Barlev said after holding an assessment with emergency and security officials. “The emergency forces will be ready for the challenges and surprises.”

“I ask Israeli citizens — take care of yourselves,” he added.

Illustrative: A beach in Tel Aviv during stormy weather, on February 17, 2021. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Citing the storm, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF) urged Israelis not to visit national parks and forests until Friday, while the Education Ministry announced the cancelation of all school hikes and other outdoor activities during the storm.

The ministry also said in-person classes would not be held at educational institutions in areas that are at risk of flooding.

Sunday’s preparations came amid a lull in the stormy weather after rainfall and high winds lashed parts of Israel on Saturday, when a homeless man in Tel Aviv died of hypothermia.

The Carmel weather system was given its moniker by a team of Israeli meteorologists in conjunction with their Greek and Cypriot counterparts. The storm first pounded Greece and Cyprus, before heading toward Israel.

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