Israel hit by tail end of Storm Daniel after it killed at least 2,000 in Libya

Warnings of potential flash flooding in desert areas as ‘medicane’ weather system brings heavy rain across the country

A rainy day on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, April 13, 2023.  (Erik Marmor/Flash90)
A rainy day on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, April 13, 2023. (Erik Marmor/Flash90)

There was heavy rain across the country Wednesday morning as Israel was lashed by the remnants of Storm Daniel, which wreaked deadly havoc in Libya and Greece earlier in the week.

While precipitation or flooding was not expected in Israel at the level seen in other countries, there were warnings of potential flash floods in desert areas.

There were reports of a number of sinkholes in the center of the country, but no immediate reports of injuries.

Heavy rain is unusual for Israel in September. The storm is expected to pass by Thursday.

Daniel formed as a low-pressure weather system more than a week ago and then became blocked by a high-pressure system, dumping extreme amounts of rain on Greece and surrounding areas before inundating Libya.

There, floodwaters smashed through dams and washed away entire neighborhoods of the eastern city of Derna. Emergency workers uncovered more than 2,000 bodies in the wreckage of Derna by Wednesday, and it was feared the toll could surpass 5,000.

A general view of the city of Derna is seen on September 12., 2023. Mediterranean storm Daniel caused devastating floods in Libya that broke dams and swept away entire neighborhoods in multiple coastal towns, the destruction appeared greatest in Derna city. (AP Photo/Jamal Alkomaty)

Storm Daniel made landfall in Libya on Sunday after earlier lashing Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece, where it killed at least 18 people.

The storm is the latest extreme weather event to carry some of the hallmarks of climate change, scientists say.

Daniel — dubbed a “medicane” for its Mediterranean location and hurricane-like characteristics – drew enormous energy from extremely warm seawater.

And a warmer atmosphere holds more water vapor that can fall as rain, experts said.

It’s difficult to attribute a single weather event to climate change, “but we know there are factors that could be at play” with storms like Daniel that make it more likely, said Kristen Corbosiero, an atmospheric scientist at the University at Albany.

Medicanes form once or twice a year in the Mediterranean, and are most common from September to January. They’re not generally true hurricanes, but can reach hurricane strength on rare occasions, said Simon Mason, chief climate scientist at the Columbia Climate School’s International Research Institute for Climate and Society.

Combined with other factors such as urbanization and land-use planning, these more intense rainfall events contribute to flooding.

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