Israelis brace for winter storm

Local and regional authorities begin to make preparations, as forecasts show thunderstorms, temperature drops and heavy rains for much of the country over the next few days.

By
December 30, 2015 19:32
3 minute read.
Mount of Olives

Snow on the Dome of the Rock in the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem's Old City is seen from the Mount of Olives January 9. (photo credit: EUROPEAN JEWISH ASSOCIATION)

 
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As rains already began to fall throughout Wednesday, Israelis braced for potential flood – and in some cases snowy – conditions around the country this weekend.

Local and regional authorities began to make preparations on Wednesday, as forecasts showed thunderstorms, drops in temperature and heavy rains for much of the country over the next few days. Mount Hermon and other mountainous areas of the Golan Heights were also anticipating snowy weather beginning Thursday.

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The incoming storm is typical for the season, caused by an upper air trough with cold air from Russia, accompanied by a depression from Cyprus, explained Amos Porat, head of the Israel Meteorological Service’s Climate Department. A meteorological trough features low atmospheric pressure, as opposed to a ridge, which features high atmospheric pressure.

“It is the first time this season that we are having this wintry system and it should bring some significant rainfall for the North,” Porat told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

The day before, the Water Authority had warned that Lake Galilee’s water levels were plummeting, due to the lack of substantial rainfall in the North thus far this season.

Authority officials expressed their hopes on Tuesday that the large amounts of precipitation forecasted would benefit the reservoir.

On Wednesday, the Golan Heights Regional Council held a preparatory meeting together with the Israel Police, the IDF, the Israel Electric Corporation, Magen David Adom and Netivei Israel-National Transport Infrastructure Company Ltd. to coordinate the activities of all of these bodies during the incoming winter storm.

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Once the storm begins, teams will block traffic arteries, scatter salt and plow roads when necessary, as well as open an information center for Golan residents, the council said. Rescue vehicles will be on alert, the council added.

For its part, the IEC said it was reinforcing its teams around the country and bringing backup generators to the Golan Heights and Safed regions, which can provide an immediate response should power outages occur. In the past two weeks, after receiving the necessary approvals the company also began extensively pruning trees that could impact nearby power lines, a statement from the IEC continued.

Despite the extensive preparations undertaken, the IEC warned that strong winds can cause collapses of trees and various other objects, potentially damaging the country’s electricity networks. The company reminded residents to look out for splitting of wires and any other electricity hazard, and to contact the company immediately upon seeing such issues – through *103, the IEC app, the IEC Facebook page or the company website.

The IEC also stressed the importance of securing objects on roofs and balconies that could potentially fly off in strong gusts of wind.

The Jerusalem Municipality, meanwhile, said it was taking emergency precautions throughout the city to prepare for the strong winds, low temperatures and potential flood conditions. The city advised residents to check their heating systems and ensure that drainage infrastructure is unclogged and windows and roofs properly sealed. Like the IEC, the municipality stressed the importance of checking the integrity of electrical systems and taking care to prune problematic trees.

Municipal crews and rescue services teams were working to take care of potential hazards in public spaces, as well as prepare for pumping flood waters if necessary, a statement from the city said. Residents should exercise particularly caution when driving, the statement added.

For Thursday, the IMS predicted occasional showers, isolated thunderstorms, strong winds and a drop in temperatures from the North to the northern Negev, with a risk of flooding in the eastern and southern wadis. Snow would likely fall over Mount Hermon during the day, as well as over the northern mountains at night.

On Friday, rainy and stormy conditions, along with continued thunderstorms and strong winds were expected to prevail. Snow would likely continue over Mount Hermon and the peaks of the Golan Heights, and in the central mountains in the evening, the IMS said. The risk of flash floods would remain for flood prone areas.

The weather would continue to remain inclement on Saturday, with isolated showers from the North to the northern Negev, with a slight risk of flash floods in the Judean Desert and Dead Sea area wadis, the IMS predicted. Cold temperatures would continue, with rain in the North and the Center intensifying by night, the forecast added.

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