Heavy Rains Cause Flooding in Southern Israel, Ceiling Collapses at Be'er Sheva Shopping Mall

Ein Gedi Nature Reserve, surrounding roads, schools close as storm roles over Israel; significant rainfall in Negev, coast and Golan Heights.

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Heavy rains in Sderot in southern Israel on Feb. 22, 2016.
Heavy rains in Sderot in southern Israel on Feb. 22, 2016.Credit: Yaniv Cliff

Heavy rains caused widespread flooding throughout Israel on Monday, as main roads, schools and attractions were closed due to poor weather conditions.

A ceiling at the Be'er Sheva's "Grand Canyon" shopping mall collapsed due to rain.

Flood in Ein Ovdat, Nahal Be'er Sheva and Rescue teams operating in Nahal Arugot Credit: Dafna arbel, Ziv Sinai - Ein Gedi Rescue Unit, Alon Shachal

Mount Hermon was also closed to visitors due to the weather conditions while route 90, was shut in both directions down north of Arugot River, near Ein Gedi. 

The Education Ministry said that about half of the students in the Bedouin community in the southern Negev were unable to reach school because of stream flooding. "The roads are flooded," Salem Abu-Keif, a father of three, told Haaretz. "To get to school, the bus needs to cross the wadi, and it can't do it in the rain so the children are staying home."

School was canceled in the Tamar regional Council which includes Kibbutz Ein Gedi.

Heavy rains in Sderot in southern Israel on Feb. 22, 2016.Credit: Yaniv Cliff
Rain in Tel Aviv, Feb. 22, 2016.Credit: Moti Milrod

The Israeli Water Authority reported that due to the heavy rainfall in the past 24 hours, the Ayalon, Soreq, Lachish, Shikma and Habesor rivers are all experiencing unusually strong currents. In the Nitzana River in the Aravah experienced flooding - a rare event at that location. The water level at the Kinneret rose by 2.5 cm (1'') over the past day, and by 40 cm (15.7'') since the beginning of the rainy season (in an average winter the Kinneret is expected to gain 1.6m – 5.25'). The Jordan River is currently flowing at the rate of 15 cubic meters per second (530 cubic feet for second). The usual rate is 20 cubic meters per second (706 cubic feet per second).

Kadesh Barnea, a town on the Sinai border, received the most amount of rain in the Negev with 33 millimeters. Similar amounts also fell in Be'er Sheva and Arad, which both got 30 millimeters. Tel Aviv saw 27 millimeters of rain while Jerusalem received 40 and the Golan 40-45. Kiryat Gat also saw 42 millimeters while Haifa received 18.

The Sea of Galilee rose by 1.5 centimeters overnight due to the rain and settled at -212.65 meters below sea level - 3.85 meters below the top red line.

Rain is forecasted to continue throughout the day. Tuesday will be partly cloudy and warmer, though light local showers are still possible. Temperatures will rise further on Wednesday, and on Thursday it will be unseasonably warm in the mountains and interior.

Beersheva River, Feb. 22, 2016.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz
Heavy rains in Kafr El Atrash, in southern Israel on Feb. 22, 2016.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz