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Photo by: Tomer Oferi
Eilat airport closes after being hit with downpours
By SHARON UDASIN
06/02/2013
Deluge of stormy weather causes airport to close for three hours, tennis matches to be delayed; agricultural fields destroyed.
 
In its third rainstorm for the year, the Eilat-Eilot region was hit with downpours on Wednesday, so strong that the Eilat airport shut down for three hours.

The deluge of stormy weather caused the airport to close only from about 8 to 11 a.m., but delays hampered flights both in and out of the facility through the late afternoon.

Municipal teams were out and about treating flood situations throughout the city and cleaning up all issues, an Eilat spokeswoman said.



Airport tarps were not the only grounds soaked through by rain in the southern port city, as Eilat’s tennis courts felt a similar effect, just in time for the first day of the International Tennis Federation’s Group I FedCup matches. On the drenched municipal tennis courts, the Wednesday morning matches – Great Britain vs Bosnia-Herzegovina, Portugal vs Hungary, Slovenia vs Luxembourg and Netherlands vs Bulgaria – were postponed to the next morning due to the rain. Meanwhile, the afternoon matches – Israel vs Turkey, Romania vs Poland, Belarus vs Georgia and Austria vs Croatia – slated to originally begin at 3:30 p.m., where delayed until 4:30 p.m.

Slightly further north, southern Arava Desert residents of Hevel Eilot Regional Council also felt the impacts of the rain, as many farmers in the most southern portion of the region coped with agricultural damage, head of the region Udi Gat told The Jerusalem Post.

“We have a lot of damage in agricultural fields,” Gat said.

“It’s the lowest place and all the rivers flood to there,” he said.

While the regional council has worked to build protection mechanisms that aim to prevent this type of flooding, there are some portions of the region that still lack such storm defense, Gat explained.

Kibbutz Eilot was one of the worst recipients of flooding, with many melons, watermelons, small date trees and onion patches destroyed there, he added. The council, he said, is currently in the process of digging a diversion tunnel mechanism to redirect the flowing water elsewhere.

“We still don’t know all the damage,” Gat said.

Although in most years the Hevel Eilot region typically receives about 20 millimeters of rain total, this year the area has already accumulated between 60 and 70 mm in some places. When the rain falls there, it comes in very heavy, two- or three-hour periods.

“Like most places in Israel we are very grateful that there is rain and that the Kinneret is getting full,” Gat said. “For most of the agriculture in Israel rain is good, but here it’s not at all good.” Acknowledging that he does, in fact, hope that this is the last southern rain of the season, Gat maintained, “it’s amazing this year.”

Outside the southern region, rain fell all over the country throughout the day on Wednesday. The Kinneret water level stood at 210.555 meters below sea level on Wednesday morning, a rise of 1.5 cm from the previous day and meaning that 1.755 meters are still missing from the basin, according to the Water Authority.


For Thursday, the Israel Meteorological Service predicted partly cloudy conditions with a rise in temperatures, but still a chance of light rain in the North during morning hours.

Friday will likely feature clear to partly cloudy skies with an additional rise in temperatures, while Saturday weather will include fair skies with no significant changes in temperatures, the IMS said.
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