Heavy thunderstorms, hail hit southern Israel, flash floods expected

Winter has finally arrived: The rain is expected to spread to most parts of the country, and will likely be accompanied by lightning and thunderstorms.

A general view shows seagulls in Ashdod port as a storm approaches Israel's shores January 4, 2018 (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
A general view shows seagulls in Ashdod port as a storm approaches Israel's shores January 4, 2018
(photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Israel's Meteorological Service in Beit Dagan on Sunday issued a travel warning, saying heavy rains are expected over Sunday and Monday, which may lead to flash floods in the northern Judean Desert and its streams and drift on Route 90, adding that the road could be blocked for extended periods of time.

On Sunday afternoon, Route 40 was closed from the Be'er Ora intersection until the northern entrance to the city of Eilat due to heavy flooding and hail in the region.

The rain has been gradually spreading since Sunday afternoon and is expected to spread to most parts of the country, and will likely be accompanied by lightning and thunderstorms. 
The Nature and Parks Authority congratulated the late arrival of the winter rains, tweeting videos of floods and hail falling near the mountains of Eilat on Sunday afternoon. 
"Israel Police calls on the traveling public and drivers to act responsibly, obey instructions and follow instructions and publications," Police said in a statement. 
The police statement included several important tips and recommendations for drivers over the coming days:
- Avoid reaching areas where there is a high risk of flooding. That includes engaging in so-called "flood hunting," which could lead to unnecessary risk.
- Travel speed must be adjusted to the weather conditions and road conditions.
- Drivers must make sure that the lights and headlights are clean before driving, and have them on at all times while driving.
- Refrain from making sudden stops and keep a distance from the vehicle in front of you.
- Special attention should be given to pedestrians while giving right of way.
- Be well-concentrated while driving and avoid any distractions, including using a mobile phone or sending messages. If necessary, drivers should stop safely on the side of the road before using their phones.
- It is forbidden to stop on the side of the road and in a place that is not intended for it, since this poses a danger to passing vehicles.
- In the event of a vehicle malfunction, drivers must turn on their flashing lights, wear a glowing vest, place a warning triangle near the car, go beyond the guardrail and call the 100 hotline.
- The Israel Police Traffic Center will be updating Waze maps and the public regarding the traffic situation and blocked routes through the media.
The public is invited to contact Israel Police at its information center 110 hotline.