Storm kills man, leaves hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the dark
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Storm kills man, leaves hundreds of thousands of Israelis in the dark

Construction worker killed as winds, rains lash Mediterranean coast; power in many areas will only be restored Monday morning

  • MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) rides her bicycle through heavy rain and strong winds as a thunderstorm hits Tel Aviv, October 25, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
    MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Union) rides her bicycle through heavy rain and strong winds as a thunderstorm hits Tel Aviv, October 25, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
  • Heavy rain and strong winds batter Tel Aviv, October 25, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
    Heavy rain and strong winds batter Tel Aviv, October 25, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
  • File: A man jumps over a rain puddle as a thunderstorm hits Tel Aviv, October 25, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
    File: A man jumps over a rain puddle as a thunderstorm hits Tel Aviv, October 25, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
  • Empty chairs at an outdoor cafe on Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Boulevard as a thunderstorm hits Tel Aviv, October 25, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
    Empty chairs at an outdoor cafe on Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion Boulevard as a thunderstorm hits Tel Aviv, October 25, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
  • An Israeli soldier runs in heavy rains and strong winds as a thunderstorm hits Tel Aviv, October 25, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
    An Israeli soldier runs in heavy rains and strong winds as a thunderstorm hits Tel Aviv, October 25, 2015. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)

Inclement weather along Israel’s Mediterranean coast on Sunday killed a construction worker and left hundreds of thousands in central Israel without electricity, with the Israel Electric Corporation saying power may only be restored come Monday morning.

Repairs to downed lines and severed connections were expected to take hours, the IEC said, with residents of Tel Aviv and its suburbs — as well as cities as far afield as Hadera and Beersheba — left without power.

The management of the Israel Electric Corporation appealed to the National Labor Court Sunday evening, urging it to order the IEC employees to work on an emergency footing to get power running again after the corporation’s union refused to do so. Management called on the court to bar the union from “managing conflicts on the backs of tens of thousands of customers.”

The stormy weather killed one person, briefly shuttered an airport, brought highways to a standstill, and caused other havoc and damage in multiple cities Sunday. The Tel Aviv area was soaked with nearly an inch of rain by 4 p.m., and places farther south, such as Mitzpe Ramon and Kibbutz Yotvata, received just as much. Jerusalem and towns in the hilly hinterland received a mere sprinkling, just a quarter of an inch in the capital.

The casualty of the storm, a 20-year-old construction worker, was killed in Pardes Hanna when a wall in a construction site was toppled by strong winds that buffeted the area, along with heavy rains. A 20-year-old woman in Hadera was seriously injured when a tree fell on the bus in which she was traveling.

The small Sde Dov Airport in northern Tel Aviv was closed for a few hours due to dangerous weather conditions, but had been reopened by evening. Israel’s main international airport, Ben Gurion Airport, saw no disruptions in service, officials said.

Strong winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour (55 miles per hour) were felt in Tel Aviv and in the Sharon region to the north of the metropolis, according to Israel’s weather service.

The strongest gusts were felt in the seaside town of Herzliya, where residents were briefly pelted with hail amid the downpour. Rains were so heavy in the southern coastal cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon that it made driving difficult.

A construction crane toppled over on Tel Aviv’s Menachem Begin Boulevard, while several streets in Tel Aviv and the nearby suburb of Givatayim were blocked due to fallen trees.

In Haifa, the nation’s second-largest seaport ceased operations. Work at the port was set to be renewed by evening.

Most communities in the Hula Valley, in the north, suffered a blackout after a major power line near Kibbutz Sde Eliezer broke down. IEC employees were at the scene trying to restore power.

A fallen tree on the Ayalon Highway, which cuts through central Tel Aviv, stopped traffic at the Kibbutz Galuyot Junction. The exit to Kibbutz Galuyot was closed at 9:40 a.m. for at least an hour.

One man was wounded on Safed Street in Netanya when an electricity pole fell onto a road. The pole burst into flames and sparked a fire adjacent to a school.

The weather also caused minor blackouts in several wind-swept towns and cities, including Netanya, Ramat Hasharon, Petah Tikva and Givat Shmuel, leading to disruptions in train services in those places. Dozens of people were trapped in elevators in city centers due to the blackouts, and emergency crews worked to extract them.

By noon, the stormy weather had moved into the Jerusalem area.

Temperatures were nevertheless unseasonably warm, ranging from 17°-28° Celsius (63°-82° Fahrenheit) in Jerusalem, 21°-29°C (70°-84°F) in Tel Aviv and 20°-29°C (68°-84°F) in Haifa.

However, temperatures were expected to drop dramatically Monday, with occasional rains and concern over flooding in desert valleys in the east and south.

The rains are expected to continue throughout the week, according to forecasters.

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