Flash floods, hail and darkness – instead of the plagues falling on Egypt, this Passover it is Israel that has been hit with its worst April weather in nearly two decades.
During a time when multitudes of families head outdoors to enjoy the five intermediate days of the Festival of Freedom, most of the country experienced heavy rain, high winds, spurts of sleet and frosty temperatures. As the rains came down Sunday, Israeli Catholics and Protestants together with pilgrims from abroad celebrated Easter. (Orthodox Easter falls one week later this year.)
KAN radio meteorologist Uri Batz reported this to be the coldest, wettest April in many years.
Barry Lynn, meteorologist and head of the Weather-it-is-Israel website told The Jerusalem Post
this is the latest in the year for a winter rain as opposed to the more seasonal tropical rain.
Lake Kinneret rose by 1.5 cm. on Saturday to –211.47, helping to refill the lake that last fall had dropped to 20 cm. below the “Black Line” of –214.4 after five years of drought. Although Sunday was the official start of the swimming season, few people went to the beaches.
Police rescued three fishermen who were swept hundreds of meters from Lake Kinneret’s shore after they lost control of their boat. Authorities issued warnings that asked people to take extra precaution.
Lynn said the rain is good news for the Kinneret, the Jewish state’s main water reservoir, but added, “We need a few more winters like this to get back to normal.” He attributed the rain and hail to unusually cold weather over the eastern Atlantic Ocean.
The Nature and Parks Authority closed several hiking trails and parks due to fear of flooding. Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights saw flurries, forcing the ski resort there to close out of safety fears. It was the first snowfall on Mount Hermon during Passover in 22 years.
The rain tapered off by Sunday evening. Monday is forecast to be partly cloudy with a slight increase in temperature but will still be colder than usual for the season.
In the Galilee and Golan, local showers will end by noon on Monday. Tuesday is forecast to be partly cloudy with higher temperatures. Wednesday and the final day of the week-long Passover holiday on Thursday will see the temperatures significantly increase with highs slightly warmer than usual for the season.
Despite the wintry weather, tens of thousands of people visited the 30 museums and sites throughout the country that are open for free during the intermediate days of the holiday, sponsored by Bank Hapoalim.David Brinn and Maariv contributed to this report.
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