Friday is expected to be the coldest day of the year, with snow likely on peaks in the center of the country and probably in Jerusalem as well.

Both the rain and the cold will ease on Saturday, though it will remain unseasonably chilly. By Monday, the rain is expected to cease entirely and temperatures will rise.

Thursday brought precipitation from the Golan Heights to the northern Negev, with the northern Golan getting from four to 70 centimeters of snow. There was heavy flooding in the wadis of the Judean Desert, and the Kishon River also overran its banks. Winds were high throughout the day, reaching speeds of 60 kilometers per hour.

The heaviest rainfall was in Jerusalem, which got 78 millimeters. Tel Aviv got 15 millimeters and Lake Kinneret got 20.

The rain will continue Friday, accompanied by falling temperatures that will reach zero degrees Celsius in Jerusalem and 8 degrees in Tel Aviv.

In Jerusalem, the forecast that snow will hit the capital before dawn brought snow fever to a peak, and the Yerushamayim website, which specializes in Jerusalem weather reports, nearly collapsed under the weight of surfers. Meanwhile, however, the heavy rain is already doing damage: On Thursday, the municipality dealt with about 50 fallen trees, 40 damaged street signs and some 150 potholes that suddenly opened in roads.

In the Golan, Thursday's snow led to some schools and roads being closed. Kibbutz Merom Golan was without power for eight hours, until 3 P.M., after a fallen tree brought down the power lines. The Mount Hermon ski resort was closed due to a raging snowstorm that dumped more than a meter of snow.

In the Galilee, heavy rain caused streams to flood, also closing some roads.

The heavy rainfall of the past two days raised the level of Lake Kinneret by four centimeters, to -212.37 meters, thanks not only to the rain that has fallen directly on the lake, but to runoff from the surrounding streams.

Data published on Thursday by the Meteorological Service shows that so far, this winter has been exceptionally rainy, with the north and the coastal plain getting between 110 and 125 percent of the average rainfall for this portion of the winter.

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