Stormy weather brings power outages, road closures and flood warnings

120-kilometer per hour wind gusts recorded in Tel Aviv; coastal highway is closed near Netanya due to flooding

People hold umbrellas to protect themselves from the rain as they walk in the northern Israeli city of Safed on January 18, 2018, as heavy rains and winds hit Israel. (David Cohen/Flash90)
People hold umbrellas to protect themselves from the rain as they walk in the northern Israeli city of Safed on January 18, 2018, as heavy rains and winds hit Israel. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The unusually powerful storm that hit Israel late Thursday continued into Friday morning, dropping large quantities of rain, particularly in the north, closing roads and bringing wind gusts in excess of 120 kilometers per hour in Tel Aviv.

The small village of Dalton in the northern Galilee received the greatest amount of rain, with 45 millimeters (1.8 inches) falling overnight. Forty millimeters fell on the northern Golan Heights, 36mm along the Lebanese border and 34mm on the mountaintop Galilee city of Safed. The rest of the country also experienced significant rainfall with Jerusalem receiving 23mm, Haifa 19mm, Tel Aviv 15mm, and even Beersheba, the desert metropolis in the south, an unexpected 10mm.

A car is seen under a tree that fell in heavy winds in Netanya, north of Tel Aviv, as a storm hit the country on January 18, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / JACK GUEZ)

Mount Hermon, Israel highest mountain, saw 15 centimeters (6 inches) of snowfall on its peak, but heavy winds mean the ski site at the mountain will remain closed Friday.

Flash flooding is expected throughout the Judean desert, Dead Sea and in the Negev as dry riverbeds are overwhelmed by the amount of rain running down from the mountain tops.

Power outages hit Ashkelon, Haifa, Hadera, Netanya, Ashdod, Ramat Gan, Kafr Kassem, Tira, Kfar Saba, Dimona, Rehovot, Rishon Lezion, Qalanswa and the central West Bank, but power was restored within a couple hours as Israel Electric Corporation crews worked through the night on repairs.

The outages were mostly caused by power lines that fell due to wind gusts or fallen trees, leading the Electric Corporation to issue a warning against the danger of fallen electrical wires.

The coastal highway, Route 2, was shut near the Yanai Junction north of Netanya because of floodwaters and mudslides that made parts of the highway too dangerous for motorists. Route 977 in the Galilee was closed from Gome Junction to Kibbutz Neot Mordechai after a tree fell onto the road. Route 581 near Kibbutz Ein Hahoresh, near Hadera, was also closed, as well as the entrance road to Tel Mond, both of them due to trees that fell on the road.

Two people were very lightly hurt when a tree fell on their car in Bet Shean. A 46-year-old motorcyclist was lightly hurt when his vehicle slid to avoid a tree that fell across a road in Ramat Gan. Fallen trees were reported blocking roads in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Hadera, Netanya and Even Yehuda.

The stormy weather will die down by Friday afternoon, but temperatures will remain unusually cold for this time of the year. Rain is expected to return on Monday.

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