Rain and Snow Pour Down on Israel Ahead of Stormy Weekend

The wet weather comes in stark contrast to the dryness that led to the wildfires that destroyed homes across the country.

Children walk in the rain in Haifa, December 1, 2016.
Children walk in the rain in Haifa, December 1, 2016. Rami Shllush

After an extremely dry autumn so far, Thursday morning brought rain, particularly to the north of Israel where by the middle of the day, 20 to 40 millimeters (3/4 of an inch to 1.5 inches) of rain had fallen, notably at higher elevations in the Golan Heights. It was snowing on Mount Hermon.

Snow falling on Mt. Hermon, Dec. 1, 2016. Liron Mills

Rain and thunderstorms were forecast Thursday from the north to the coastal plain with a chance of flooding. Friday's forecast is for rainy and windy weather from the north to the northern Negev, with thunderstorms and possible flooding.

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The weather is in stark contrast to the dry autumn weather up to now, which set the stage for wildfires late last month that destroyed homes in Haifa, Zichron Yaakov, the Jerusalem area and in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Halamish, among other locations.

Massive rain clouds in the Golan Heights Scoops.rotter.net Facbook

With the forecast for particularly stormy weather on Friday, the grottos at Rosh Hanikra on the Mediterranean coast near the Lebanese border will be closed for the day, as will the Mount Hermon ski area on Friday. A decision regarding opening of the ski slopes on Saturday will be made later, depending on weather conditions.

The level of the Sea of Galilee rose by 1 centimeter early in the day Thursday as a result of rain directly into the lake. In a sign of the extremely dry conditions up to now, October saw the smallest amount of water flowing from the Jordan River into the Sea of Galilee in 90 years. As of Thursday, the level of the sea, also known as Lake Kinneret, was 5.03 meters below its full level.

The greatest amount of precipitation measured so far was 52 millimeters fell in Nahalal, with 36 millimeters falling in the Golan Heights. In central Israel small amounts of rain have fallen, totaling 9 millimeters in Tel Aviv and just one millimeter in Jerusalem.

Heavy winds are expected in most areas through Thursday. In Eilat the winds blew at 70 kms. per hour and sandstorms were reported.

Winds and rain were expected to pick up on Thursday evening and overnight, with snowfall expected in the Hermon. The rainy weather was expected to last through Friday afternoon, with some additional showers possible on Saturday.