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The first heavy rains of the season poured down over the weekend from Mount Hermon to the hills of the Negev, leading to serious traffic tie-ups and flooding homes in low-lying coastal areas.
After a drizzly Thursday, the rain started in earnest on Friday as storm clouds rushed down from the North, bringing intermittent heavy rain accompanied by thunder, lightning and hail. The Israel Meteorological Service said Gamla on the Golan Heights received 74 mm. of rain in the 24 hours between Friday evening and Saturday evening, while Merhaviya in the Jezreel Valley received 63mm. in the same time period.
On Sunday, the first snowfall of the season is expected on Mount Hermon.
The rain is forecast to peter out on Sunday and Monday, but meteorologists are predicting that the downpours will return on Tuesday.
Despite this weekend's rain, both the West Bank and the South have received below normal precipitation to date.
Although Israelis usually consider rain a blessing, the weekend storms were anything but for local motorists.
Route 65, the major east-west highway connecting the coastal plain with the Jezreel Valley and the Lower Galilee, was flooded in Wadi Ara on Saturday. In April, a 23-year-old woman was killed there when her car was swept away by over two meters of water during a flash flood. Dozens of other vehicles were trapped. The Israel National Roads Company subsequently built drainage ditches in an effort to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
On Saturday morning, the road was once more awash. It was closed in both directions between the Meggido and Me'ami junctions. Police said "pirate roads" built by local residents had prevented the water from draining properly.
Near the Dead Sea, Nahal Arugot and Nahal Mishmar both overflowed their beds. Route 90 was closed to traffic between the tourism complex at Ein Bokek and the Kalya Junction due to flash floods.
Late Friday night, flooding in Afula forced police to evacuate people from their homes as more than a meter of water inundated the city's Rehov Nordau.
The damage was not just confined to the periphery. Rising waters in central cities kept police busy overnight Friday and into Saturday morning.
A fallen light post blocked Rehov Ibn Gvirol, one of Tel Aviv's major arteries. Further south, the southbound side of the same street was blocked due to flooding.
In Holon, police rescued an elderly man and his dog who were stranded when the man's home flooded. In Ramat Gan, Rehov Bernshtein was completely inundated.
The southbound lanes of the Ayalon Highway were blocked by sand from the Ayalon River, which runs between the north and southbound lanes.
Power outages were reported in Petah Tikva, where a tree fell on an electrical pole on Friday evening, and in Ramle, where a number of neighborhoods were left without electricity on Saturday.
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