As rains drenched much of northern and central Israel on Sunday and snow dusted the peaks of Mount Hermon, the country awaited a massive storm slated to sweep over the region later this week.
On Tuesday, an infiltration of cold air from Eastern Europe to the Eastern Mediterranean is set to bring a round of wintry and stormy weather, the Israel Meteorological Service said on Sunday. Alongside heavy winds and rains, snow likely will fall in the Golan and Galilee by Tuesday, reaching the central mountain peaks – including those of Jerusalem – by Wednesday, forecasting data from the IMS said.
Tuesday is set to feature strong southwesterly winds of between 50 kph. to 80 kph., with gusts of about 100 kph. – strong enough to affect traffic on roads, as well as activity at airports and seaports, the IMS said.
The sea will be particularly rough on Tuesday, with waves reaching between 4 m. and 6 m. in height. Meanwhile, dust storms will likely cause haze and reduced visibility in the South and Center of the country, according to the IMS.
Rain accompanied by thunderstorms, as well as, potentially, hail, likely will fall in the North and along the northern coastline on Tuesday.
Snow is set to begin falling and piling up over the Golan Heights on Tuesday at noon, and reaching the Lower Galilee mountain peaks, including in Safed by evening. Heavy snow will fall overnight in these areas, stacking up dozens of centimeters by Wednesday morning, according to the IMS forecast.
On Wednesday, heavy snowfall is set to continue over the Golan Heights and Galilee mountain peaks higher than 600m. Over the course of the morning, the snowfall gradually will spread to the mountains of the Center, including Jerusalem, the IMS said.
By afternoon on Wednesday, the snow will increase in intensity, the forecast added.
Apart from the snow, rain accompanied by thunderstorms and hail will continue to drench northern and central Israel, with possibilities of flooding. Particular concern for flooding applies to the country’s eastern rivers, in the Judean Desert and Dead Sea area, the IMS said.
Strong winds on Wednesday are set to continue blowing from the west at between 50 kph. and 70 kph., with gusts of between 80 kph and 100 kph. At sea, wave heights will remain at about 4 m. to 6 m., while temperatures will be significantly lower than usual, according to the forecast.
On Thursday, snow likely will continue to fall throughout the morning and accumulate at altitudes of 500 m. or higher, potentially also in the Negev highlands. Snowfall is expected to continue in the afternoon and taper off by night, the IMS said.
Meanwhile, rain will persist on Thursday from the North to the northern Negev, but its strength will weaken. Winds also will weaken, as will waves, which likely will maintain a height of about 2 m. to 3 m.
Temperatures are set to remain significantly lower than usual following the storm and, as a result, IMS forecasters feared ice formation when the rains end.
As of Sunday morning, Lake Kinneret’s water level stood at 212.83 m. below sea level, according to the Water Authority.
While this is 17 cm. above the “bottom red line” of 213 m. below sea level, it remains a hefty 4.03 m. below the basin’s “upper red line” of 208.8 m. below sea level, which indicates full capacity.
All in all, between 30 mm. and 40 mm. of rain fell over the Galilee and Golan Heights over the weekend, while the Center of the country received between 20 mm. and 30 mm.
As a result of the high amount of precipitation expected in this week’s storm, particularly in the northern parts of the country, Water Authority officials are forecasting strong flows in the drainage channels of Lake Kinneret, Dr. Amir Givati, head of the surface water department at the Water Authority’s Hydrological Services, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
Together with the snowfall, Givati said he and his colleagues expect the drainage channels to cause a rise of about 10 cm. or more in the Kinneret’s water level.
“This storm is very important to the water sector in Israel,” Givati said.
Given the impending winter weather, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews will distribute NIS 8.5 million in heating grants to some 25,000 impoverished elderly people as part of their “Warming with Friendship” annual winter campaign on Tuesday.
“During the winter months the plight of the elderly is exacerbated and many of them have to make an impossible choice between heating the house and buying food or medicine,” Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the IFCJ, said on Sunday.
The grants, totaling NIS 350 per elderly person, will be distributed by social workers and hundreds of IFCJ volunteers in 62 local authorities throughout the country that do not receive government heating grants for the elderly from the National Insurance Institute.
“The strength of a society is measured in how it treats the weakest links within.
About a quarter of Israel’s elderly live in poverty and are unable to cover their monthly expenses. The pensions barely cover half of the basic needs of the elderly while the cost of living is only increasing,” Eckstein said.
“We, as a society, cannot allow this situation to persist. I call on the public to join us and help heat the homes and hearts of the elderly,” he said.
Magen David Adom staff members also said they were preparing for the potential consequences of the weather. During last year’s storm, the rescue service reported receiving 49,561 calls for assistance, of which 17,287 were in Jerusalem.
Magen David Adom director Eli Bin said he was instructing forces in potentially snowy areas to take all possible measures to be ready for the storm. In addition, the organization said it has reinforced its manpower and volunteers and put dozens of ambulances equipped with a front-wheel drive on standby.
Magen David Adom reminded members of the public to refrain from moving about unnecessarily in areas affected by snow and ice, as well as to ensure that backup batteries are available for any necessary medical equipment. In addition, the organization stressed the importance of ventilating and maintaining furnaces, in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
In stormy weather, drivers must be sure to maintain a safe distance from the vehicles in front of them and avoid entering puddles.