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Winter storm wallops Israel with rain, wind for second day

Students flee inundated school by forming bridge of desks; rockslide blocks road in north; sinkhole opens in road in Netanya

The Mount Hermon ski area in northern Israel, on December 21, 2021. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)
The Mount Hermon ski area in northern Israel, on December 21, 2021. (Ayal Margolin/Flash90)

Winter Storm Carmel buffeted Israel with heavy rains, blustery winds and cold temperatures for a second day Tuesday, flooding roads and causing damage across the country.

At the same time, the weather system subsided somewhat a day after it blew into the region and wreaked severe damage, bringing down trees and causing at least one death.

Rains tapered off Tuesday but were expected to pick back up again in the center of the country and the north, with some fears of flooding, especially along the coast. The heaviest damage on Tuesday was in the north of the country.

Among Tuesday’s weather-related incidents were:

  • A school flooded in the town of Pardes Hana. Students were evacuated by forming a “bridge” of tables placed next to teach other so they could walk across them over the water.
  • A car flipped on Route 5 near Petah Tikva, injuring a man in his 60s.
  • The Tel Aviv boardwalk was submerged and roads were closed due to flooding in Holon. People who were trapped in their cars were rescued by fire services.
  • In the north, a landslide of stones and earth blocked Road 864 near the town of Kafr Rama.
  • A car fell into a sinkhole on a road in Netanya amid heavy rains and winds. According to paramedics, a 25-year-old man was brought to the hospital with light wounds after the incident.
  • Hundreds of calls to police were reported in Jerusalem in the past two days due to falling trees, flooding and traffic light outages.

Wind speeds as high as 42 kilometers per hour (26 miles per hour) were recorded in the Jerusalem area, with gusts as high as 68 kilometers per hour (42 miles per hour), the Israel Meteorological Service said.

Around 25 centimeters (10 inches) of snow had fallen on Mount Hermon in the north, the Walla news site reported. The surface level of the Sea of Galilee rose by 2 centimeters (0.8 inches).

Temperatures in Jerusalem were expected to drop overnight to 7°C (44°F); in Tel Aviv, 12°C (53°F); Safed, 6°C (43°F); Beersheba, 8°C (46°F); and Eilat, 12°C (53°F).

The storm is expected to continue Wednesday, with rains in the north and on the coast, including some thunderstorms, and below average temperatures.

While chilly temperatures will remain throughout the week, only scattered showers are predicted for Thursday and Friday before sunny skies return on Saturday.

On Monday, the storm wreaked havoc across the country, bringing down trees and electrical poles, sparking fires, bringing widespread flooding, and causing at least one deadly car crash.

The flooded streets of Tel Aviv, on December 21, 2021. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

At least one death from a car crash and several injuries were blamed on the storm’s walloping rains and wind Monday.

A man who was hit by a falling tree in Netanya Monday remained hospitalized in serious condition on Tuesday.

The weather was blamed for the death of a homeless man died of hypothermia in Tel Aviv on Saturday as the forefront of the storm made landfall.

Preparations for the storm began Sunday with emergency services gearing up for various rescue tasks, while local authorities prepared backup generators and trimmed vegetation near powerlines to prevent cuts when the storm made landfall.

Police and fire services warned the public to refrain from unnecessary travel during the storm. They also urged Israelis to avoid underground parking garages and other areas that could experience flooding, given expectations of up to 150 millimeters (nearly 6 inches) of rain in some locations.

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