Israel prepares for first storms of winter
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Israel prepares for first storms of winter

Haifa residents try to seal burned homes as country readies for coastal floods, southern sandstorms, Golan snow

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

The flooded Weizman Street, in the central Israeli city of Raanana, due to heavy rain, October 28, 2015. (Chen Leopold/Flash90)
The flooded Weizman Street, in the central Israeli city of Raanana, due to heavy rain, October 28, 2015. (Chen Leopold/Flash90)

After a parched start to the winter, Israelis were battening down the hatches Wednesday for an expected 36 hours of strong winds and rain.

The storms — the first of the season — were expected to bring sharp drops in temperature and winds of up to 90 km (56 miles) per hour, according to weather forecasts.

Some 80 to 100 cm (30 to 40 inches) of rain were expected to fall from Wednesday evening through Thursday, even more in northern regions — the result of low pressure over the Mediterranean Sea.

Northern and coastal areas were expected to be hardest hit.

In Haifa, residents were trying to seal and waterproof homes damaged in last week’s rash of bush fires.

The Mediterranean sea and parts of the city can bee sen through a burned house following wildfires in Haifa, Israel, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
A view of Haifa seen through a burned house following wildfires in Haifa, Israel, Friday, Nov. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

On the coast, authorities were concerned that heavy rain could bring city flooding. Meanwhile, flooding and sandstorms were predicted for the southern desert areas and the Dead Sea, according to the Israel Meteorological service.

On the Golan Heights, snow plows were put on alert and loaded with some 75 tons of salt to spread on roads.

Saturday was forecast to be dry and partly cloudy with average temperatures for the season.

Last year’s storms knocked out power for tens of thousands of Israelis and caused severe flooding along the coast and inland.

An Ashkelon street collapses under the weight of a massive rainstorm in November. Photo: Police spokesman's department
An Ashkelon street collapses under the weight of a massive rainstorm in November. (Courtesy Israel Police)

Nearly 10 centimeters of rain fell in only one hour in the southern coastal city of Ashkelon in December, flooding schools and kindergartens, bringing chaos to roads, and setting a new meteorological record for rainfall in a single hour.

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