Rain in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MANFRED GERSTENFELD,MAOR DAVIDOVICH,MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A sudden rain and hail storm battered the Jerusalem and Gush Etzion region early Thursday morning, stranding several motorists and causing problematic flood conditions in homes and portions of the capital city.
According to police, numerous rescue teams were dispatched to extricate motorists stranded in vehicles caught in the deluge in several neighborhoods, including Katamon, Shmuel HaNavi, Mea Shearim, Baka, Talpiot, Jabel Mukaber and Ras al-Amud.
Although no serious injuries were reported, Magen David Adom paramedics treated one woman who was lightly injured in a car accident, as well as a few of people for mild hypothermia. Additionally, several homes sustained damage due to the powerful downpour, police said.
The precipitation pounded the area from about 4 a.m. to 9 a.m., with about 40 millimeters of rain falling in Jerusalem, according to Dr. Amos Porat, head of the Israel Meteorological Services Climate Department. Intense rains were accompanied by hail and thunderstorms and resulted in flooding, he explained.
"The rainfall was caused by a very unstable atmosphere: an upper air trough with cold air and relatively warm air in the lower atmosphere," Porat said. While Jerusalem received a heavy amount of rain – 38 millimeters in the city center and 41 millimeters in Givat Ram – Rosh Zurim in Gush Etzion received 50 millimeters and Metzoke Dragot, in the northern Dead Sea region, got 16 millimeters. Flooding in this area led to the closure of Road 90, Porat added.
Unlike the winter storm system that affected much of the country over last weekend and earlier this week, Porat stressed that Thursday's localized episode was not a unique occurrence for April. Many areas in Israel, including the coastal plain, received no precipitation on Thursday, he added.
Last year, severe rainfall occurred on May 7, with 30 millimeters falling on Jerusalem, while on May 16, 2007 – Yom Yerushalayim – 30 millimeters fell on the capital city within the span of two hours, Porat explained.
On April 2, 2006, more than 120 millimeters fell on Jerusalem, and on May 2, 2001, the city was drenched by 71 millimeters within four hours, causing significant damaged, he said. "Such an event in April or May is not very rare," Porat added.