After Dry Spell, Israel Readies for First Winter Storm

Rain over the coming weekend will shift away from dry heat to thunderstorms and flash floods

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Storm clouds can be seen over a field in northern Israel in 2018.
Storm clouds can be seen over a field in northern Israel in 2018.Credit: Gil Eliahu
Sam Sokol
Sam Sokol

Israel is bracing for the first major storm of the winter this weekend, following a warmer than average November during which relatively high temperatures and strong winds led to a string of wildfires and dust storms across the country.

According to the Israel Meteorological Service, Thursday will see scattered rains, turning into isolated showers and thunderstorms from the northern Negev to northern Israel on Friday, accompanied by “slight risk of flash floods in the eastern wadis (valleys).”

The rains will continue into Saturday, with occasional showers and isolated thunderstorms in the north and center as well as possible flash floods in the Judean Desert wadis and the Dead Sea region and a “significant drop in temperatures, becoming unseasonably low.”

According to The Weather Channel, greater Tel Aviv is likely to experience thunderstorms through Sunday and early morning showers for the rest of the week while the Jerusalem district can expect light rain from Friday until Sunday.

The first two weeks of November saw temperatures three degrees Celsius higher than average during the day and two degrees higher at night, the IMS said, noting that there was barely any rain. Last November was one of the wettest in decades, with flash flooding across the country that required emergency services to rescue hundreds of people.

Last week, Israel's north and center experienced multiple wildfires requiring the deployment of firefighting crews and aircraft and the evacuation of dozens of homes. They were accompanied by dust storms coming in from the west, leading authorities to recommend limiting outdoor activities.

“The prolonged heat is not common but is not unique to this year - there have been a number of cases in the past where the first half of November was similar and even warmer,” the IMS said, noting that recent temperatures were “in line with the current warming trend.”

Last month, the agency released an analysis finding that “the rate of global warming in Israel is almost twice as high as the global rate,” reflecting the fact that “Israel is in a hot spot…in the process of global warming [which] requires the country to prepare for the effects of climate change in our region.”

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