Storm Barbara blows in with furious winds, heavy rain, snow; injuries reported

Teens hurt by falling tree branches, Sea of Galilee rises 1.5 centimeters as storm sparks flash flood warnings; snow possible in high-elevation areas as mercury plummets

A tree downed in Haifa by a winter storm, February 6, 2023 (Roni Ofer/Flash90)
A tree downed in Haifa by a winter storm, February 6, 2023 (Roni Ofer/Flash90)

Israel was lashed Monday morning with the arrival of a powerful winter storm dubbed Barbara which brought high winds, heavy rain and near-freezing temperatures.

The Magen David Adom emergency service said an 11-year-old boy was seriously injured by a falling tree branch in the central town of Tel Mond and a 13-year-old girl was lightly injured under similar circumstances in the Tel Aviv suburb of Or Yehuda.

A 75-year-old woman and a man in his 40s were lightly injured in the coastal city of Netanya, and an 81-year-old woman was lightly hurt in Tel Aviv, both having been knocked down by strong winds.

In the western Galilee’s Kibbutz Adamit, four people were lightly injured in a car accident between two vehicles that was caused after a tree branch fell on top of one of them.

A video posted on social media purportedly showed scaffolding that collapsed in the coastal city of Ashdod. There were no injuries reported.

According to data from the Israel Water Authority, the Sea of Galilee has risen 1.5 centimeters over the last day amid the heavy rain.

Authorities warned that some parts of the country could see flooding from winter storm Barbara, which is also forecast to bring isolated thunderstorms.

Some snowfall is also expected in the area over the next several days.

Heavy rains and gusting winds of up to 35 knots were slated to come ashore in northern Israel starting Monday morning, eventually spreading across the country, the Israel Meteorological Service said.

The heaviest winds were expected along the coast, turning the sea dangerously turbulent.

Inland, authorities warned of flash floods as rains inundate the dry northern Negev and Judean Desert.

Some parts of the country may see downpours of 15 millimeters or more per six-hour period, before the rain begins to let up on Wednesday, the IMS predicted.

Temperatures are expected to plunge once the initial front moves through, with mountainous areas seeing the mercury near freezing, though even colder temperatures are expected early next week.

Snow is forecast to fall on Mount Hermon Monday, and by Tuesday night high elevation areas in the north and center may also see flurries, according to forecasts.

The rain and winds are expected to taper off Wednesday and Thursday, giving way to frigid temperatures beneath a partly cloudy sky.

Barbara came to Israel after dumping snow on Athens and other parts of Greece, hampering activity. At sea, high winds forced ships and ferries to alter sailing plans.

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