Man badly injured by falling tree as storm sweeps in with strong winds and rain

Pedestrian suffers serious head injury in Netanya incident; snow falls on Golan Heights; IDF cancels navigation exercises

Police at the scene where a large tree fell on a man and seriously wounded him in Netanya, December 20, 2021 (Flash90)
Police at the scene where a large tree fell on a man and seriously wounded him in Netanya, December 20, 2021 (Flash90)

A man sustained a serious head injury Monday when stormy weather blew over a tree that landed on him in the coastal city of Netanya.

Paramedics who arrived at the scene treated the man, 49, sedating and intubating him and then taking him to Beilinson Medical Center, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.

On Monday afternoon, the hospital released a statement that the man remained in critical and unstable condition, and was sedated and intubated in intensive care. “The wounded man is in a life-threatening state and doctors are fighting to save his life,” the hospital reported.

The man was apparently walking past the tree, on Raziel Street, when it snapped off at the roots and toppled onto the sidewalk, striking him.

Wind speeds in the area had reached 60 km/h (37 mph), Hebrew media reported.

Another tree blew down in Haifa, landing on a car but not causing any injuries.

The storm, dubbed “Carmel,” was expected to bring major rainfall and strong winds, causing serious disruptions throughout the country.

A woman watches as people kite surf in the Mediterranean off the coast of Tel Aviv, on December 20, 2021 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Rain lashed the country from the north to the top of the Negev region in the south.

However, meteorologists have predicted the storm will reach its peak during the afternoon and evening with more rain and gusts up to 100 km/h. The rain is expected to continue sporadically throughout the night.

The IDF halted all navigation exercises due to the weather, and placed restrictions on outdoor leisure activities for soldiers in the north of the country.

In the northern coastal cities of Nahariya and Acre, which were expected to see particularly heavy rainfall and winds, local authorities closed schools and ordered that classes be held remotely via the internet.

Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton ordered that all off-site activities planned by schools across the country be canceled from Monday through Wednesday, as a precaution.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority said it was closing many sites around the country, including the ancient Masada desert fortress and water hikes in the Judean desert. In the coastal city of Caesarea, the ancient hippodrome remains were also closed to the public.

Video shared on social media showed powerful waves smashing against the sea wall in Caesarea.

The government-owned Mediterranean Coastal Cliffs Preservation Company warned that cliffs along the coast could collapse, dropping boulders down their faces, and advised the public to stay away from such areas.

As temperatures dropped, snow fell on the Golan Heights and Mount Hermon in the north. The mountain’s ski resort was closed to visitors and is expected to remain shut until Tuesday.

In Jerusalem, the temperature during the day was forecast to be 8° Celsius (46.4° F); in Tel Aviv 14°C; in Haifa 12°C; and in Eilat, the warmest place in the country, 20°C, though it was expected to drop 14°C at night.

Preparations for the storm began Sunday with emergency services gearing up for various rescue tasks, while local authorities prepared backup generators and trimmed vegetation near powerlines to prevent cuts when the storm made landfall.

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.

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 pounded Greece and Cyprus before heading toward Israel.

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