Rain in the Galilee
Storm strikes the Upper Galilee region. Photo by Yael Shavit
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The Upper Galilee was stunned yesterday by an extremely rare summer storm, with rain, hail and thunderstorms pummeling the region for an hour in the middle of the heavy heat of June.

Such storms occur regularly in tropical regions and sometimes in Europe, but atmospheric conditions make them extremely rare in Israel.

Yesterday's rain storm was the result of cold air which had seeped from Turkey to the upper layer of air above the northeastern Galilee. Humidity in the middle layers and warm air rising off the ground combined to create the conditions needed for rain.

The Israeli meteorological service was largely caught off guard, with its Website stating the rain radar had been shut down for lack of active clouds.

Residents of Kibbutz Gonen said yesterday that because warm temperatures persisted through the storm, bathers continued swimming in the local pool.

"I thought everyone would run off to their cabins, but instead parents and children started dancing in the rain. The day was very warm so the rain was cool and surprising," Meir Levi, a local resort director, said.

Amri Lavron of Hulata described the scene as a monsoon, with steam rising from the asphalt roads.

The sharav conditions are set to continue today and grow warmer still tomorrow and Tuesday, with temperatures only beginning to ease up on Wednesday.