Hours after electrcity was restored to nearly every household in the country, flash floods destroyed power lines for thousands of people once again midday Wednesday, causing blackouts that lasted until the late evening.
Heavy rain and wind put up to 20,000 households in the central and Sharon regions – including many of the same areas affected by multiple-day outages earlier this week – in the dark once again. At noon, about 15,000 households were without power. That number rose to about 20,000 by just after 4 p.m. and dwindled to about 1,300 by about 8 p.m. and 180 by about 8:30 p.m., the Israel Electric Corporation said.
“Due to the rains that began this morning and a lightning strike at the Herzliya substation, several high voltage lines in the central and Sharon regions were damaged,” the IEC said in the afternoon. “As a result of flooding and traffic jams in some areas, there are difficulties accessing the network damage points, prolonging the time until the return of electricity. The IEC continues to work in emergency mode.”
The stormy weather has been wreaking havoc since Sunday. That morning, powerful rain, wind gusts and hail knocked down trees and electrical infrastructure, leading to outages in more than 200,000 households at peak; worst affected were Sharon region communities Ra’anana, Kfar Saba, Herzliya and Netanya.
That number fell to about 50,000 on Monday morning and then to 8,000 on Tuesday morning and 1,000 that evening, dwindling to isolated households by Wednesday morning, until violent weather resumed hours later.
Together with Herzliya Mayor Moshe Fadlon and IEC CEO Ofer Boch, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz on Wednesday afternoon visited the paralyzed Herzliya substation, which was responsible for most of the power outages in that city and the neighboring Ra’anana. The minister spoke with workers repairing the station and was impressed by their efforts to restore electricity to residents, his spokeswoman said.
Steinitz also visited the emergency headquarters set up by the Herzliya Municipality as a result of the severe weather. The minister stressed the need to urgently remedy the problem at the substation, but said the most critical task involves strengthening and protecting the site against similar hazards, his spokeswoman said.
Steinitz also spoke with Ra’anana Mayor Ze’ev Bielski and Kfar Saba Mayor Yehuda Ben-Hamo.
While the rain on Tuesday was heaviest in the southern Coastal Plain, the Shfela and near the Gaza Strip, Wednesday’s precipitation was concentrated in the Dan and southern Sharon regions, Dr. Amos Porat, head of the Climate Department at the Israel Meteorological Service, said.
From about 8 a.m. on Tuesday through 5 p.m. on Wednesday, areas in the southern and central Coastal Plain received between 20 and 50 mm. of rain, according to IMS data reported by Porat. Most of the precipitation in the southern Coastal Plain fell on Tuesday afternoon and evening, while rain fell more heavily on the central Coastal Plain and the Sharon region on Wednesday morning and afternoon, he explained.
During that day and a half, 62 mm. accumulated at the Kfar Shmaryahu IMS station, with 24 mm. of that falling during midday on Wednesday, Porat said. Although it is possible that the quantities that poured over nearby Herzliya, Ra’anana and Kfar Saba were larger, the IMS had no information available from the stations in those areas by the evening, he added.
Since the beginning of the storm on Sunday, 30-70 mm. of rain accumulated in the Coastal Plain and the Shfela, while at Kibbutz Erez in the Gaza perimeter, .09 mm. was measured, the IMS data said.
Only small amounts of rain – 10-15 mm. – fell in the northern mountains, while the Negev and Arava deserts received 10-20 mm., with 30 mm. falling in isolated spots, the data showed. Nonetheless, because long-term averages for October rain in the Negev usually reaches only 5-10 mm., precipitation in many locations there exceeded typical quantities for the month, Porat said.
For Thursday, the IMS predicts occasional showers accompanied by isolated thunderstorms from the North to the northern Negev, with unseasonably low temperatures and a risk of flash floods in the eastern and southern wadis.
By Friday, the weather service forecasts partly cloudy conditions with isolated showers, predominantly over the Coastal Plain, as well as a slight rise in temperatures.
Clear to partly cloudy skies and an additional rise in temperatures are expected on Saturday, with an additional slight rise in temperatures on Sunday.