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Photo by: Seth J. Frantzman
Temperatures remain low as weekend storm blows over
By SHARON UDASIN
15/12/2013
Public transport to and from the capital operates in limited capacity; power outages continue in many neighborhoods in the city.
 
Although the country woke up to sunnier skies on Sunday morning, Jerusalem's frigid temperatures kept icy conditions intact while other regions experienced flooding in the aftermath of the four-day storm.

Many of the country's roads remained blocked to traffic due to build-ups of snow, ice and flooding conditions on Sunday morning.

Road 1 was reopened to private vehicles in both directions, but police urged drivers not to drive to the capital unless it is absolutely necessary. The alternate Road to and from Jerusalem to the country's Center, Road 443, was opened on Sunday afternoon. Many other roads throughout the country, such as Road 90 near the Dead Sea, remained closed due to flooding.

In the early afternoon, select urban lines within Jerusalem began operating once again in a limited and gradual format, including lines that reach the Har Hotzvim Industrial Park, according to Egged.

Buses around the country to and from the nation's capital were also working in a limited fashion. Egged's line 100 to Jerusalem's government quarters, which usually leaves from the Shapirim park-and-ride lot, instead was departing from Tel Aviv's Central Bus Station.

In Safed, all bus lines were still inactive except for line 361, which was running until Rame, a town to Safed's southwest.

Meanwhile, electrical outages still plagued many neighborhoods throughout Jerusalem and the surrounding region, as well as villages in the North.

Agriculture Ministry director-general Rami Cohen estimated that storm damage to agriculture had reached the equivalent of tens of millions of shekels, his office announced on Sunday.

From the hundreds of calls received from farmers throughout the country over the weekend, the ministry said that worst hit crops were those growing in open fields in the country's Center, where they were exposed to unusual cold. Many farms in the North also suffered due to disruptions in the power supplies necessary to their chicken coops and cattle barns.

Despite the damages, the ministry praised the advance preparations undertaken by drainage authorities across the country, which prevented flooding in many cases and even more significant breakdowns. On Sunday evening, ministry officials will be meeting with agricultural organizations to formulate the steps necessary toward coping with farmers' losses, the ministry said.

The Kinneret, as well as the nation's aquifers, reaped the benefits of the mega-storm, with large amounts of rain falling in the North, the Center and the Western Negev. Since the beginning of the storm on Wednesday through Sunday morning, the Kinneret's water level rose 10 centimeters, bringing it to 211.30 meters below sea level, the Water Authority said. The basin is missing 2.50 meters from reaching full capacity.

Out of all the water drenched regions, the Western Negev received the greatest quantities, at approximately 200 millimeters, the Water Authority said.

The rains also led to strong flows in the Shikma, Lachish, Basor and Ayalon streams. At Nahal Shikma, located in the Western Negev, such strong flow occurs only once every 25 years, the Water Authority said. In the Ayalon, however, the flow was not able to top that of last January, when enthusiasts went tubing down the river and its adjacent overflowed highway. While flow rate reached 400 cubic meters per second in January 2013, during this storm it reached only 180 cubic meters per second, the Water Authority said.

Stream flows in the Lake Kinneret drainage system strengthened until Friday, but these flow levels were not considered abnormal, the Water Authority added.
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