Heavy Rains Across Israel, Flooding in South

Largest quantities of rain registered in Arad and Ra'anana, which saw 50 millimeters of rain since Wednesday night. Hundreds of tourists stranded.

Heavy rain fell Wednesday night across most of the country. The rain is expected to continue through Thursday afternoon and there may be some isolated storms Friday as well.

According to Meteotech, the largest quantities of rain fell in Arad and Ra'anana, the latter registering 50 millimeters of rain since Wednesday night. There are reports of flooding in the south.

Police in Israel say rescuers are evacuating dozens of American tourists who were stranded overnight in a parking lot in the Negev desert due to rare heavy rains.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that about 70 tourists from the United States were stranded there since Wednesday night when the rain began. He said nobody was injured in the incident and that rescuers evacuated them with helicopters and jeeps on Thursday morning.

Rosenfeld said the tourists were on a field trip near Hulit when heavy rains prevented them from continuing the journey. Some 126 Thai tourists are also reportedly stranded in Tze'elim.

In the south, some 200 children were stuck in Masada National Park following flooding on Route 3199. The sixth graders from Hadera went out on a trip Wednesday, and stayed the night in tents at a parking lot. By Thursday morning, they were trapped in the park due to the flooding. The Arad emergency rescue unit was attempting to get them out of the park.

Tel Aviv has seen 16 millimeters of rainfall so far, while there has been 26 millimeters in Be'er Sheva, 32mm in Netanya, 22mm in Acre and 20mm in Kiryat Shmona.

The current weather system is a result of humidity originating in Africa. Heavy rains and thunderstorms are unusual but not unheard of in Israel this time of year.

According to Meteotech, the rain will taper off Thursday afternoon, but there is still the threat of flooding, primarily in the south.