Israel hunkers down for weekend winter storm

Flash floods expected in South, 30-60 cm. of snow for Mount Hermon, high winds everywhere.

January 5, 2018 07:23
2 minute read.
Israel hunkers down for weekend winter storm

A broken tree rests on top of a car in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem, January 5, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)


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A national safety advisory was issued on Thursday, as the country braces for a stormy weekend punctuated by heavy rains and winds up to 90 kph.

According to Alissa Razy, a forecaster at the Israel Meteorological Service, the storm will gradually build Thursday evening on the Golan Heights in the North, then spread south to Haifa, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and the northern Negev overnight Friday and Saturday.

Israel's Water Authority said Friday morning that 20-30 mm. of rain fell in the north of Israel and 40-50 mm. fell in the Galilee and Golan overnight Thursday. The Sea of Galilee's critically low water level rose by two centimeters.

“During the day Friday, we will have the strongest winds of 40 to 60 kph, with gusts of up to 90 kph. The distribution of the rain will continue to spread southeastward, so we are calling it rainy and stormy Friday from the North to the Negev.”

Razy added that snowfall of between 30 and 60 cm. will be isolated at the highest regions of Mount Hermon in the North.

“In the southern Negev, we are expecting haze and a high risk of flash floods in wadis [riverbeds], as well as flooding in the coastal plains, so people should stay away from those areas,” she cautioned.

Overnight Friday through Saturday, Razy said, the storm will begin to weaken significantly, with rain and wind slowly dissipating by Saturday evening.

“On Saturday, we’ll just have some isolated showers and wind in central Israel and the Negev that will not be especially strong, so this will be the end of the system,” she said.

A general view shows seagulls in Ashdod port as a storm approaches Israel's shores January 4, 2018. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

By Sunday, the meteorologist said, the storm will pass and temperatures and conditions will return to normal.

The Jerusalem Municipality’s Emergency Committee said it completed its preparations for the stormy weekend weather and issued a safety advisory.

“Residents and business owners are asked to keep areas clean and to ensure that garbage is disposed of in garbage cans to prevent it from blocking drainage openings,” the municipality said in a statement.

“Cut and remove trees and branches in private gardens in close proximity to cables, check the safety of electrical systems, and equip them with emergency lighting and heating kits. It is important to strengthen antennas, solar water heaters, and other objects on roofs and balconies.”

The statement added: “Check the health of your heating system – especially those that require ventilation, as well as the health of the electrical and gas connections to prevent shortages and gas leaks.

“Ensure that roofs, windows and shutters are sealed, and clean and open water drainage cells in courtyards and gutters on roofs. Clear objects that are not secured and are at risk of falling, such as flowerpots, planters, furniture and signs. And avoid standing under sheds, pergolas, huts, or temporary structures.”

Moreover, veterinarian Dr. Gil Shavit said pet owners should keep cats and dogs – particularly puppies, kittens and elderly animals – in consistently warm and safe environments.

“The more we keep them in a warm home, the better,” he said. “Put them in the house, set aside a special place with a warm old blanket, keep their fur dry, and let them enjoy a warm winter.”

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