First winter rain begins falling throughout country

Heavy rain, hail, fierce winds forecast this weekend; MDA going on higher alert and has ordered ambulances to be deployed in every district.

Stormy weather jerusalem 311 AJ (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Stormy weather jerusalem 311 AJ
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Rain began falling on different parts of Israel on Friday afternoon, beginning what was expected to be a stormy weekend.
Tel Aviv received its first raindrops early in the afternoon, along with Haifa, Netanya, Ra'anana and Kfar Saba.
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The country is bracing for the first serious storm of the winter, which is expected to hit over the weekend. Temperatures will plunge and there’s even a chance of snow on Mount Hermon and sleet in other mountainous areas.
The Israel Meteorological Service predicts scattered showers on Friday with winds beginning to pick up. Saturday should bring steady rain with a chance of flooding in the low areas in the North, some rain in the Center and a chance of sandstorms in the South. The IMS is also predicting winds of up to 100 kph, along with lightning and hail.
Sunday is expected to be stormy, cold and windy as well, with the rain and winds tapering off gradually on Monday, although there’s still a chance of flooding.
In light of the forecast, the Israel Electric Corporation has asked people to secure any objects that could be borne aloft by high winds and damage electric lines.
The IEC is putting its teams on alert, but expects to meet consumer demand. It added, however, that if the storm did down an electric line, it might take some time to restore power.
Meanwhile, the Agriculture Ministry has closed off the Carmel Forest Reserve to nonresidents until December 26 and has asked the public to avoid the area. A special forestry order was also issued by Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog.
Authorities believe the storm could cause some of the trees damaged in the fire over the past week to fall down. They are also afraid that the rains could erode the soil now that the trees are not securing it.

While any rain is welcome in light of the dwindling water supply, it will take much more than one storm to make a dent in the situation. Nevertheless, the rains could wash away the pervasive smell of burned trees and scorched earth hanging over the Carmel area and reduce the high rate of polluting particles in Usfiya and other places.
Magen David Adom is going on higher alert and has ordered ambulances to be deployed in every district of the country.
MDA first-responders have brushed up on how to deal with hypothermia and other cold-related conditions and have stocked their ambulances accordingly.