Winter Storm Barbara was forecasted to reach Israel on Monday morning and wreak havoc until Wednesday. The storm is expected to bring with it strong winds of up to 100 km/h, intense cold and heavy rain in the north and center of the country and snow on Mount Hermon and the peaks of the Golan and Galilee. Additionally, there is a fear of flooding in the Judean desert.
By early Monday afternoon, heavy fog and strong winds had set in at the top of Mount Hermon, accompanied by heavy snow.
The temperature on the mountain range was reported to be -2.5c and the snow was as high as 80cm on the lower levels of the range and one meter at the peak of the mountain.
In response, the country's rescue services and municipalities are preparing to deal with the storm. Israel Fire and Rescue Commissioner Eyal Caspi led a special situation assessment and instructed the district commanders to finish the preparations on Sunday evening, with an emphasis on checking the readiness and availability of the specialized equipment for rescues in water and snow.
The commanders were also instructed to expand organizational coordination with the Israel Police, emergency services and local authorities.
Instructions for the public
The Fire and Rescue Commissioner further called on the public to obey the instructions of the emergency and rescue agencies, observe fire safety rules and avoid unnecessary disasters. In a statement, the Fire and Rescue authority pointed out that in the years 2016-2022, about 500 fires were caused and 23 people died as a result of the unsafe use of heating devices such as coil ovens and heat diffusers.
The Fire and Rescue authority instructed the public to obey the following safety rules:
- It is recommended to use safe means of heating, such as an AC or a radiator.
- It is recommended not to use heating devices with an open flame, such as a coil ovens. Heating devices should be kept away from blankets, mattresses and sofas - the heat radiation may cause fires.
- Due to the strong winds throughout the country, it is recommended to anchor mobile objects on roofs, balconies and gardens as soon as possible, as collapsing trees, columns and flying objects would endanger citizens.
- Any hazard that may harm passers-by must be reported to the authorities.
- It is mandatory for the driving public to significantly slow down the driving speed and adapt to the road conditions, which include fog and strong side winds that may shake the vehicle.
At the coast, the storm's wind gusts of up to 100 km/h are expected to cause rough sea and seven or up to seven-and-a-half-meter high waves.
In preparation, the Haifa municipality created an emergency headquarter to deal with the possible fallout. Its units are prepared to deal with flooding and blocked roads and to clear obstacles such as trees, light poles, signs and traffic lights that may fly as a result of the strong gusts of wind.
For this purpose, mechanical engineering tools were put on standby. The Haifa Municipality also appealed to residents to prepare ahead of time for the storm - to strengthen solar heaters, sheds and other objects such as flower pots and plants on roofs and balconies and to stay as far away as possible during the storm from trees, poles and other objects that may fly as a result of the strong winds.