Israel is set to be lashed by a rare hybrid tropical storm over the weekend that is expected to bring heavy rainfall, strong winds, and flooding across the country.
Forecasters said the “medicane” brewing in the eastern Mediterranean would make landfall by Saturday.
Flash flood warnings were issued in the south, and hiking trails and tourist sites in the Judean desert were closed for the weekend.
Precipitation is predicted to reach anywhere from 100 to 200 millimeters, with winds possibly reaching 110 kilometers an hour (68 miles per hour).
Forecasters said the majority of the rainfall and flooding would occur in low-lying areas in central and southern Israel.
Some models really have this #medicane strengthening to a 50-55+ mph storm as it approaches the Suez Canal late Friday local.
— Matthew Cappucci (@MatthewCappucci) October 25, 2019
Officials in the Gaza Strip declared a state of emergency on Friday that will stay in effect until Saturday evening. Several municipalities in southern Israel were also making preparations for the storm, including opening hotlines and emergency centers.
Israel’s national electric company has advised people to remove any objects from their balconies and rooftops that are susceptible to being blown away or damaged by the storm.
Satellite images on Friday morning showed the tropical-like storm, a cyclone approximately 480 kilometers wide, barreling towards Israel and Egypt.
Tropical-like cyclones in the Mediterranean are a rare meteorological phenomena that are observed only every few years. On a few occasions, the storms have reached the force of a Category 1 hurricane.
I just wanted to clarify, but starting at 21:00 UTC, @Medicane_Centre will be issuing advisories every 3 hours for #MedicaneScott. Israel and the Sinai Peninsula have a risk of seeing winds up to 60-70 mph (100-110 km/h) and 200 mm of rain. #medicane #scott pic.twitter.com/f8OKTadb47
— Ben Wray (@BenWray17) October 24, 2019
The UK Met Office said Friday morning the impending storm is “incredibly rare this far east in the Mediterranean.”
Egypt has already been hit with heavy rains and bad flooding over the past week, killing 11 people in the Cairo area.