As lights flickered and snapped tree branches felled power lines across the
country on Monday, Israel continued to brace itself for several more days of
torrential rains and thunderous winds.
Showers and storms pounded nearly
all of country, with extremely strong winds – of up to 85 kilometers per hour
from the North down to the Arava, decreasing to 35 kph in Eilat, according to
Israel Meteorological Services (IMS).
Snow continued to fall over the
Hermon, closing the area’s ski resort, and temperatures dropped to colder than
usual all over the country.
Ongoing flooding plagued coastal towns, while
the riverbeds of the South, Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert faced flash
floods, the IMS said.
Meanwhile, flooding incidents shut down roads all
over Israel – including major highways like Road 4 and Road 10.
previous winters, Modi’in’s Azrieli Mall was completely flooded on the first
floor, causing police and firefighters to evacuate all the stores. Eyewitnesses
described water streaming into the mall, creating a veritable river through the
No one was injured and shoppers left the building without
“Stormy weather caused flooding to the municipal drainage
system, leading to the overflow of water in some areas of the mall,” an official
response from the Azrieli Group said, as of Monday afternoon. “To ensure the
safety of visitors, in the coming hours the mall shall be drained of water and
will reopen as usual.”
Driving past the mall early Monday evening,
Modi’in resident Leron Altman told The Jerusalem Post
that she saw piles of
sandbags lining the sides of the building. Aside from the situation at the mall,
she said she saw many muddy pools all over the city’s construction sites and
In Jerusalem, firefighters scrambled to deal with downed
trees, some of which fell against electricity towers, causing damage.
Firefighters also cleared away downed antennas and trees that had fallen on cars
across the city, as periods of rain alternated with bouts of hail.
rather empty Mahaneh Yehuda shuk, merchants cheered, mostly with boredom, every
time the hail started to pound earnestly on the plastic roofs of the shuk’s
stalls, creating an incredible racket. A resident of one older apartment in
Nahlaot said she was running out of towels mopping up leaks and that the wind
tore her balcony’s sun cover to shreds.
If the storm maintains its
current intensity over the week, Jerusalem may experience snow on Wednesday, and
the city has therefore been increasing preparations for that possibility. The
municipality was also providing temporary lodging for its homeless residents
during the storm.
Side effects of the storm likewise rattled the city of
Tel Aviv-Jaffa, with 217 problematic events already taken care of by the city by
midday Monday. The municipality had treated four flooded apartments, seven
flooded yards, one flooded land plot, 55 fallen trees and branches, 21 road
obstacles, 20 fallen lights and signs, 13 holes, 11 blocked antennas, three
sewage issues, 10 fallen building parts, five fallen roof objects, 16 torn
electricity cables, one fallen fence, four road erosion incidents, 20
problematic road puddles and five telecommunications issues, the city
The Tel Aviv Municipality warned drivers and pedestrians that there
are issues with traffic light systems in many parts of the city. Meanwhile, at a
building site at the corner of Rothschild Boulevard and Nahalat Binyamin, a
crane had fallen and hit glass on the building next door, according to the
In anticipation of the storm, the municipality said it had been
making constant preparations for the potential ravages of the stormy weather and
increased the presence of all of its operational teams as well as social
services staff to distribute blankets and hot drinks to the homeless. In the
past few years, the city has been giving increased priority to preventing
flooding during the winter season, particularly with the entire overhaul of the
urban drainage and sewage systems in most parts of the city. The municipality is
also working in cooperation with the Ayalon Highway Company to handle the
possibility of flooding on the Ayalon.
Just north of Tel Aviv, the
Herzliya train station, which had been closed since midday Sunday due to
flooding, began operating again at about 12:30 p.m. on Monday, a spokeswoman
from Israel Railways said. The company, however, warned travelers that trains
would be moving slowly due to the weather throughout the duration of the
Outside of the Jerusalem and Tel Aviv regional hubs, the Health
Ministry warned that due to the possibility of contaminated storm run-off mixing
with drinking reservoirs, residents near the Dead Sea – including Almog, Kalya,
Beit Ha’arava, Avnat, Vered Yeriho and tourist sites in the area – should boil
their water for a minimum of two minutes until further notice. In cooperation
with the regional council as well as Mekorot National Water Company, the
ministry said it would continue to conduct testing.
The Health Ministry
also warned against swimming in the nation’s beaches, due to the possibility of
contaminated runoff in the waters.
In the West Bank, heavy rain and
lightning damaged 19 houses on Monday in the Al-Janeed area, west of Nablus,
causing considerable damage to the properties, Palestinian news agency Ma’an
reported. Torrential rain also fell from Sunday into Monday in Tulkarm, flooding
homes and roads throughout the town, according to Ma’an.
winds had not yet caused any damage to crops in the central Arava Desert region
– which supplies 60 percent of the country’s fresh produce exported to Europe –
the area’s leaders stressed that it is crucial that farmers continue to
reinforce their greenhouses and brace their crops.
“Right now it’s
reasonable,” Eilon Gadiel, director of Arava Research and Development, told the
on Monday afternoon. “It doesn’t mean it’s not going to change, but I hope
for the best.”
In the Galilee, however, farmers estimated that the
thousands of dunams of crop damage occurring there through flooding and
subsequent rotting has already amounted to millions of shekels. Although the
rains are bringing significant amounts of water to help farmers with irrigation,
they are also destroying crops, particularly in the Hula Valley region,
according to the Galilee Development Company, a firm jointly owned by 33 Galilee
By Monday evening, the company reported 2,000 hectares of
agricultural land in the area had been flooded – sites where wheat, carrots,
onions, peas and other crops are prevalent.
Because the tremendous amount
of rainfall has fallen in a very short amount of time, the soil drainage systems
have not been able to properly absorb the water, explained Ofer Barnea,
agricultural operations director at the Galilee Development Company.
current state of the region is reminiscent of a similar incident that the
Galilee experienced in 2003, during which the area lost millions of shekels,
“I guess toward the end of the week we will be able to
better evaluate the damage,” he said.
In addition to the human
agricultural losses, the cranes that are supposed to be feeding at the moment
from seeds and seedlings in the Hula Valley are now seeing their food supply
damaged as well, Barnea explained. The farmers, he said, are working to find a
solution to this problem as well. Thus far, about 100 millimeters of rain have
hit the area in this storm, he added.
Also in the North, the Kishon River
was overflowing by afternoon, and the Kishon River Authority said it was taking
pains to prevent the mixing of factory sewage with the now rehabilitated
While much of the nation faced the inconveniences – and sometimes
dangers – of the storm, Lake Kinneret was reaping its benefits. By Monday
morning, the Kinneret basin’s level was at 211.72 meters below sea level, 10
cm.above that of the morning before and still 2.92 meters from being
Throughout the country all day, Israel Electric Company teams were
working under the harsh weather conditions to fix the damage caused to the power
grid lines by the storm. Most of the damage caused by the storm thus far was
related to tree branches collapsing on power lines, causing them to tear,
according to the company.
It is likewise crucial that the public take
certain safety precautions, such as removing storage units that can fly away
from balconies and hit electrical wires, and making sure that window shutters
are connected properly to the buildings, the IEC said.
In addition, if
there are broken electrical wires in the street, it is critical to refrain from
touching them, due to risk of electrical shock. Any torn wires should be
reported immediately to the IEC at *103 or to the police, the company
Going forward, the IMS predicted that on Tuesday,
thundershowers would continue to drench the country’s North and Center, along
with extremely strong winds and snow over Hermon. The ongoing risk of floods and
flash floods will likewise persist, and by Tuesday evening the rain will spread
to the South and to Eilat. Also in the evening, snow will likely begin to cover
the peaks of northern mountains as well as possibly those of the central
By Wednesday, the IMS forecasted that showers and storms would
cover nearly the entire country once again, with a continuation of the extremely
strong winds and further temperature drops. Snow will likely fall over Mount
Hermon, the northern mountain peaks and the central mountain peaks – including
Jerusalem. The risks of floods and flash floods will also persist, and there
will be a chance of snow in the Negev mountains.
On Thursday, the showers
and storms throughout the country, as well as the strong winds, will likely
continue, as will the chances of snow in the northern and central mountain
peaks, including those of Jerusalem in the morning, the IMS reported.
rain will begin decreasing in amount and weakening in intensity by the
afternoon, but there will still be flood and flash flood risks, as well as very
cold temperatures, the IMS said.