A winter cloud system from Europe that strayed from its course is expected to arrive in Israel via Egypt, bringing rain to the south over the weekend and causing a high likelihood of floods.

On Sunday the rain will weaken to some extent, only to strengthen again Monday and Tuesday. Snow may also fall on Mount Hermon, forecasters predict.

Nahum Malik of the Meteotech weather service said yesterday that the winter weather system that was on its way to Israel from Lebanon and Cyprus changed direction and will instead arrive from Egypt.

"This means the showers will focus mostly on the center and south. The Judean Desert and large streams in the Negev and Arava are in danger of flooding," Malik said.

The rains are expected to begin at noon today and strengthen during the night. It will continue raining tomorrow as well. The showers may be quite forceful and in desert regions more than 10 millimeters of rainfall could cause a powerful flood.

The Nature and Parks Authority may issue a flood warning today and close hiking and tourism sites which are likely to be flooded, such as Qumran and Nahal Dragot in the Judean Desert.

Local showers may fall on Sunday, too.

The weekend rains could improve the precipitation balance, which has reached 25 to 35 percent of the multi-year average rainfall during the winter season, Malik said.

On Monday a new cloud system is expected arrive to Israel from Turkey, bringing colder weather and stronger rainfall, Malik said. Temperatures will reach a high of 16 degrees Celsius in Tel Aviv on Monday and 11 degrees in Jerusalem.