Israel pounded by heavy rain, lightning in worst storm of winter
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Israel pounded by heavy rain, lightning in worst storm of winter

Brunt of stormy weather believed to have passed, as over 100 inches of rain, snow seen in parts of northern Israel

  • Waves crash on the seafront in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya on January 5, 2018 as a storm hits the country.  / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ
    Waves crash on the seafront in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya on January 5, 2018 as a storm hits the country. / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ
  • A surfer enters the Mediterranean Sea off the coastal city of Netanya on January 5, 2018, as the worst storm of the winer hits Israel. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
    A surfer enters the Mediterranean Sea off the coastal city of Netanya on January 5, 2018, as the worst storm of the winer hits Israel. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
  • Waves crash on the seafront in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya on January 5, 2018 as a storm hits the country.  / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ
    Waves crash on the seafront in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya on January 5, 2018 as a storm hits the country. / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ
  • An man surfs in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya on January 5, 2018 as a storm hits the country. / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ
    An man surfs in the Israeli coastal city of Netanya on January 5, 2018 as a storm hits the country. / AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ
  • A man rides a bicycle by a tree which has fallen on a car in Jerusalem, due to heavy winds, as a heavy storm hits Israel. January 05, 2018.  (Ynatan Sindel/Flash90)
    A man rides a bicycle by a tree which has fallen on a car in Jerusalem, due to heavy winds, as a heavy storm hits Israel. January 05, 2018. (Ynatan Sindel/Flash90)
  • Lightning is seen above the coastal city of Netanya on January 4, 2018, as the worst storm of the winter hits Israel. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
    Lightning is seen above the coastal city of Netanya on January 4, 2018, as the worst storm of the winter hits Israel. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)
  • People hold umbrellas to protect themselves from the rain as they walk in Jaffa gate near the Tower of David in Jerusalem Old City, as heavy rain and wind storm hits Israel. January 05, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
    People hold umbrellas to protect themselves from the rain as they walk in Jaffa gate near the Tower of David in Jerusalem Old City, as heavy rain and wind storm hits Israel. January 05, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel was pounded Friday by its worst storm of the winter, with over 100 millimeters of rain falling in parts of the north and lightning strikes throughout the day and flash floods in the southern desert regions.

The heavy rains left Israelis stranded in floods, shut main roads and brought down dozens of trees, causing some damage. Route 90 running along the Dead Sea was closed after a desert stream flooded and Route 234 was closed near Tze’elim in the south due to flooding.

Safed experienced the heaviest rainfall, with 110 millimeters of rain falling in the northern city. A number of other places in the north also got around 100 millimeters of rain and the ski resort at Mount Hermon in the Golan Heights saw heavy snowfall, but still not enough to open the site to visitors.

As a result of the rain in the north, the Sea of Galilee rose three centimeters.

People hold umbrellas to protect themselves from the rain as they walk near Jaffa Gate near the Tower of David in the Old City of Jerusalem, as heavy rain and wind storm hits Israel, January 5, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Elsewhere in the country, Jerusalem got 40 millimeters of rainfall and Tel Aviv got 38 mm. The storm also included lightning strikes, with the Israel Electric Corporation recording 2,500 over the past day, according to Hadashot news, 300 more than the entire monthly average.

Despite the wintry conditions, the worst of the storm was believed to have passed by late Friday with much lighter rainfall expected Saturday.

Earlier Friday, two children, aged six and nine, and a 70-year-old man were rescued from a jeep suffering from hypothermia. The three were driving in an open area near the northern coastal city of Hadera when the vehicle became stuck in a huge puddle. The two children had climbed on to the roof of the vehicle due to the depth of the water.

The fire brigade was able to rescue them and paramedics from Magen David Adom administered first aid before transporting them to the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center in fair condition.

A police car which was towing the vehicle also became stuck in the water, and had to be pulled out by the rescue services.

A number of potholes opened on Route 70 in the section between Yagur and Yokne’am in the north of Israel, due to the storm. This led to drivers stranded at the side of the road with punctures in their tires and police blocked one lane of traffic, Hadashot news reported.

Route 581 north of Netanya was also blocked in both directions due to a fallen tree.

A surfer enters the Mediterranean Sea off the coastal city of Netanya on January 5, 2018, as the worst storm of the winter hits Israel. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

Elsewhere a tree fell onto a parked vehicle in Ramat Gan, causing light damage to the car. Nobody was injured.

Rescue services said they had stocked up and deployed all necessary equipment, including extra water pumps, rubber boats, life rafts and electric generators. All fire stations are on double duty, and the special Lehava rescue unit of the national Fire and Rescue Service was placed on high alert.

The IDF warned any hikers planning to brave the stormy weather in the country’s north and on the Golan Heights to stay on marked trails and steer clear of minefields. Heavy rains can sometimes cause floods and mudslides that carry landmines outside the fenced-in minefields, which are surrounded by barbed wire and marked with yellow and red warning signs.

 

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