Season’s first rainfall drenches Israel

Forecasts show scattered rains continuing Wednesday, thunderstorms expected in Negev.

First winter rain in Haifa (Video: Yonathan Hallali)
Providing some respite from months of scalding heat, the season’s first full-fledged rainstorm poured over Israel Wednesday.
After some localized drizzle the day before, heavy precipitation began to fall in several areas around the country overnight between Tuesday and Wednesday. The rain was characterized by “strong local bursts,” resulting in vastly different amounts falling from place to place, according to Dr. Amos Porat, head of the Israel Meteorological Service’s Climate Department.
“Significant rainfall in October is not exceptional, but it usually occurs in the second half of the month,” Porat said on Wednesday.
“The amounts recorded in the past day are uncommon in the first 10 days of October.”
The largest amounts of rain fell in the Sharon region, where 30-70 mm. poured down, predominantly during the morning hours, IMS data showed. The southern coastal plain received 20-45 mm., while 20-30 mm. accumulated in the North, the data reported.
Double-digit amounts of rain fell early in October in both 2009 and 2010, but the volume of these rainy events was more limited, Porat said.
The current storm system is the result of an upper air trough with a surface depression over Cyprus, which resulted in rainfall over Israel, he explained.
Many areas of the country were inundated with floods southern coastal city of Ashdod. Video footage published by Ynet showed vehicles struggling to navigate through water that in some areas rose higher than their wheels. Later that day, the Interior Ministry announced the temporary closure of the city’s Mei Ami beach, due to the leakage of sewage on the coast.
Residents in a number of cities experienced power outages during the Wednesday rainstorm.
“Due to the first encounter of rain and dust that had accumulated on the electrical grids, mud was created. It trickled into the transformers, causing shorts that resulted in localized power outages,” a statement from the Israel Electric Corporation said.
The outages, the company said, were fewer than those that occur on a routine day and were immediately repaired.
The unseasonably cool and rainy weather on Wednesday followed a month considered the hottest September since the IMS began taking measurements in the 1920s. The month was characterized by several heat waves, with temperatures, on the average, 2.5° to 3° centigrade warmer than typical September days, IMS data indicates.
Other exceptional weather phenomena this September included a thick, prolonged dust storm event at the beginning of the month; flooding in the Negev in the middle of the month; and local rains in the north of the country on September 21. Following Wednesday’s rains, the IMS predicted partly cloudy conditions with isolated showers on Thursday, predominantly in the North and along the coast.
Although temperatures are expected to rise slightly, they should remain unseasonably low, with no significant change on Friday, the IMS said.
For Saturday, the IMS forecasts partly cloudy skies with a slight rise in temperatures, followed by unseasonable heat on Sunday.