Wadi Ara in danger of another flooding

Local river floods for 2nd time in 3 days; Galilee recovers from mini-tornado.

flooding good, ap 298 (photo credit: AP [file])
flooding good, ap 298
(photo credit: AP [file])
The heavy rains that fell across Israel caused the Irron River to overflow on Wednesday leading to heavy flooding in Wadi Ara for the second time this week. Road workers operated in the area to clear roads that had been blocked, while police and emergency workers were on call in case the situation worsens. Israel's road works chairman Alex Vishnitzer revealed that in the course of three hours, 130 mm of rain fell in the area. He noted that it was an event that occurs every hundred years, and so the local infrastructure was not equipped to deal with it. After the rains ceased in the area during the early afternoon, they were expected to resume later in the day. Earlier in the week, five people were killed as a result of floods in Wadi Ara, in the Jordan Valley road north of the Dead Sea, and near the security fence around Kalkilya. The main road passing through by Umm el-Fahm was covered by a reported two meters of water, washing away a car passing on the road and drowning its driver. Meanwhile on Wednesday, locals and officials in the Western Galilee were working to repair the heavy damage caused by the "mini-tornado" that struck the region on Tuesday. Some of the 70 people injured, of which were 20 children, were treated at Nahariya Hospital; three of them remained hospitalized overnight. The severe weather included heavy winds and hail. The winds damaged many homes, including pulling several doors out of place. Electricity was cut in some places after electric poles were blown down. Appraisers from the Agriculture Ministry and from a natural disaster insurance company arrived in the western Galilee on Wednesday to assess the extent of the damage. The damage in the area was estimated to cost hundreds of thousands of shekels. Head of the Julis Regional Council, Nadim Amar, told Israel Radio that government officials did not take interest and did not offer assistance. He said that dozens of homes were damaged and that several schools had to be shut down temporarily. Amar related that the council appealed to the government to declare Julis a natural disaster struck area. Eli Matzor, who witnessed the storm, told Army Radio that he saw a car lifted up in the air, hurled over a divider in the road and rolled over on the other side of the road. Sa'id Kilwan from Majdal Krum related that he had no control over his car, "Only God controlled it." He said that it spun around five times. At first he reportedly couldn't get out of his car because it was in constant motion. Once he did manage to get out, he said, he was lifted up into the air. The Megilot district near the north end of the Dead Sea was also hit hard by the severe weather. Western Galilee agriculture, including both crops and greenhouses, was hit especially hard. Avocado, litchi and banana crops were severely damaged at Moshav Avdon. An avocado grower on the moshav related that he had never seen anything like this; he noted that all the leaves were shorn off of his trees by the hail. Director of the Geophysics Department at Tel Aviv University, Prof. Pinhas Alpert, explained that a mini-tornado is the weakest type of tornado. "A tornado has a very distinct appearance. Its strength can be measured on a scale of 1-5. Looking at what we witnessed in the Galilee late Tuesday, I estimate that it was a level one tornado, the weakest in the tornado category. However, even this storm carries with it extremely strong winds and is capable of inflicting plenty of damage," he said. According to Prof. Alpert, a similar storm was witnessed in Rehovot several years back. "Although rare in our region, the Mediterranean has many more tornados than we believe," he concluded. Though the storm died down, heavy rain accompanied by thunderstorms will continue up north on Wednesday and spread to the center and the south of the country as well.