search
New lake forms on outskirts of Ashkelon neighborhood

Major rainstorms lift Sea of Galilee, flood major highways

Woman, 25, found semi-conscious under Jerusalem bridge, suffering from severe hypothermia; over 100 millimeters of rain fell in some areas in past two days

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Heavy rains form a temporary lake in the city of Ashkelon, December 17, 2020. (Screen capture: Twitter/Shuki Amzaleg)
Heavy rains form a temporary lake in the city of Ashkelon, December 17, 2020. (Screen capture: Twitter/Shuki Amzaleg)

A winter spell that lashed the country with pouring rain and strong winds over the past two days abated Thursday with only scattered showers in some areas and forecasts predicting the storms will further ease overnight.

The wintry weather caused flooding in areas around the country, boosted the water levels of the Sea of Galilee, and left one woman suffering from a serious case of hypothermia in Jerusalem.

The woman, reportedly 25 years old, was found semi-conscious Thursday morning and suffering from severe hypothermia at the side of the road under a bridge of the Jerusalem light rail system at the capital’s Ora Junction. She was taken in serious condition to the nearby Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital.

Israel Police said Thursday that some roads were closed due to flooding.

Route 90, a north-south artery that passes by the Dead Sea region, was closed in both directions in two places due to flooding from streams in the area. Route 234 in the south was blocked in the area of the Tze’elim Bridge and police were directing traffic to other routes, Hebrew media reported.

In the coastal city of Ashkelon, the heavy rains formed a huge temporary lake on the outskirts of the coincidentally named Agamim (lakes) neighborhood. The same site saw similar scenes in January this year after a particularly heavy downfall.

Heavy rains form a temporary lake in the city of Ashkelon, December 17, 2020. (Screen capture: Twitter/Shuki Amzaleg)

This week’s 48 hours of rain, which in some areas amounted to over 100 millimeters of downpour, also raised the water levels of the Sea of Galilee. Israel’s largest freshwater lake, though no longer used as the main source of drinking water, is still seen as popular gauge of seasonal rainfall. The level of the lake went up by 5.5 centimeters during the wet spell and is now 1.1 meters below the upper water mark.

With more water still rushing into the lake in run-offs from hills in the north of the country and the winter season just starting, there has been increasing anticipation that a safety dam which prevents the lake from overflowing could be opened for the first time in 25 years.

Some rain was still expected in various areas from the north to the northern edge of the Negev desert in the south, as well as thunderstorms.

The weather was expected to further ease off overnight Thursday with only light showers in some areas by Friday and temperatures climbing slightly over the weekend.

The Thursday forecast for Jerusalem was 14° Celsius (57° Fahrenheit), dropping to 9° C at night. In Tel Aviv it was 18° C, and 14° C at night, and in Haifa 15° C and 13° C at night.

Wednesday saw streets turned into rivers in some areas of the country. The rains also filled streams, causing waterfalls to swell on many popular hiking routes.

read more:
comments