First rain in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A torrent of rain Monday morning combined with unseasonably low temperatures, causing flooding and scattered power outages throughout northern and central Israel and one death from a collision in the West Bank.
According to Amos Porat of the Israel Meteorological Service, the rainy season generally lasts from late October through May. Although the rains arrived slightly earlier than expected this year, he said there is no cause for concern.
The season’s first downpour began in the North, where several roads in Nahariya, Kafr Manda and Ramat Yishai were temporarily closed due to flooding. Power outages were also reported there and in Kiryat Bialik and Hadera in the Haifa District.
The rain then reached central Israel, with portions of Tel Aviv, Holon and Ramat Gan reporting periodic downfalls and minor electrical disturbances.
On Monday afternoon, the wet conditions led to a head-on collision on Route 90, near the West Bank settlement of Petzael, resulting in the death of a 32-yearold Palestinian tow-truck driver and injuring six others including passengers on an Egged bus.
The unidentified driver was pronounced dead at the scene, while his passenger was airlifted to a Jerusalem hospital in serious condition, according to Magen David Adom.
The five Egged passengers were lightly injured.
In Nahal Og, located along the northernmost riverbed draining into the Dead Sea, 150 hikers were reportedly trapped momentarily in a flash flood near several streams. No serious injuries were reported.
“Once every few years we get rainfalls in early October, and sometimes even in late September, but it usually begins during the second half of October,” he said by phone on Monday. “It’s a bit earlier this year, but not particularly unusual.”
The Israel Meteorological Service said 7 mm. of rain fell in the most affected regions. It forecasted scattered showers to continue until Tuesday. By Wednesday, the rain is expected to recede, with temperatures returning to normal.
The deluge is good news for the Lake Kinneret, which reached its lowest levels in nearly a century this year following an ongoing drought in the North.
At the end of May, the basin held less than nine million cubic meters of usable water – the worst situation since 1920.