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Storms batter south and center of Israel, flooding some roads

4 hikers rescued in Eilat area after heavy hail left them bruised; rain expected to peak Wednesday, Thursday

A police stands in a flooded area of Highway 90 in southern Israel, November 1, 2020 (Israel Police)
A police stands in a flooded area of Highway 90 in southern Israel, November 1, 2020 (Israel Police)

Israel overnight Sunday-Monday experienced its first major storms of the seasons, causing flooding and road closures in some areas.

The rains were expected to continue through the week, peaking across the country on Wednesday and Thursday.

Route 90 in the south was closed off to traffic in both directions from the Ein Gedi junction to the Dead Sea due to flooding, and the entrance to Jerusalem was also flooded, according to Hebrew media reports on Monday.

The Kan public broadcaster said Route 25 was closed between the Oron intersection and the Rotem industrial zone.

On Sunday, heavy hail in Eilat and the area surrounding the southern city led to the rescue of four hikers who could not find shelter and suffered bruising from the hailstones.

Hail falls in the southern city of Eilat, November 1, 2020 (Screen grab/Walla)

Additionally, some areas of the coastal city of Ashdod suffered power outages.

The rain is expected to subside by the weekend.

Last winter, downpours in northern Israel broke a 51-year record within a two-week period. The generous rainfall in the north raised the level of the Sea of Galilee by 19.5 centimeters and ended a 5-year drought that plagued the area.

The water level came close to its all-time low in April 2017, when the level dropped to 212.95 meters (about 698 feet) below sea level. The current level is minus 209.985 meters (minus 688.927 feet).

Last winter’s deadly flooding claimed the lives of seven people in Israel.

The Agriculture Ministry announced in August that it would be investing NIS 146 ($43) million to upgrade drainage facilities across the country, although it was unclear how much had been implemented ahead of the winter.

Scientists warn that climate change will lead to less rain in Israel but to more extreme downpour events causing flooding.

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