Heavy Rains Hit Israel: Flood Warnings Issued, Snowstorm Expected in North

Flood claims life of 74-year-old man in Haifa; temperatures to drop steeply with expected winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour (56 miles per hour).

Flooding in central Israel, December 13, 2016.

Heavy rains hit Israel on Tuesday, and the storm expected to get strengthen in the evening and overnight. 

The rain, which began in the north and along the coast, is expected to spread to the Negev in the south on Tuesday evening. Strong winds and thunderstorms are expected as well.

Flooding claimed the life of a 74-year-old man, Yosef Kilinsky of Kiryat Ata, whose car got stuck in a tunnel in Haifa. Paramedics who found the man in the backseat of his car tried to raise his body temperature but he died shortly after. The Rambam Medical Center said that it is not known whether he died of drowning or hypothermia since his family refused to allow an autopsy.

Firefighters recovering the body of a man who drowned in a flooded tunnel in Haifa, Israel, December 13, 2016.
Courtesy Israel fire and rescue services

Earlier, a woman was rescued after her car was stuck in the same tunnel on Halutzei HaTaasiya Street, which floods every winter in heavy rains. 

Police closed down all the underground vehicle passages in Haifa starting at 6 P.M. because of the worsening weather conditions and more expected flooding. The underground passage under Route 70 between Yagur and Kfar Hassidim was also closed to traffic.

Tuesday’s rain was particularly heavy in the north; the Lower Galilee got some 50 millimeters of rain, while 30-40 millimeters fell in the Upper Galilee and Golan.

A woman rescued from a flooded tunnel in Haifa.

Flood warnings were issued for central and northern Israel. The Darga Stream in the West Bank and Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights in the north were closed to visitors.

Flooding in the central Israel, December 13, 2016.

The streams in the Kishon basin near Haifa were flowing strongly and caused flooding. Lake Kinneret rose by two centimeters, and streambeds in the lake region that had been dry for two years, like the Ayoun, Amud, Tzalmon and Hatzor streams, filled with water. The Kinneret is expected to continue to rise in the coming days.

The storm is expected to continue across most of  Israel on Wednesday, from the north through the northern Negev. Temperatures will drop steeply and winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour (56 miles per hour). A snowstorm in expected on Hermon Mount. Flooding is possible in streams in the east. A light snowfall is expected on the Golan Heights starting in the afternoon hours, and possibly on the peaks in the Galilee.  

The Mediterranean Sea will be stormy with rough to high waves of 3 to 6 meters high. Southwesterly to northwesterly winds of 50 to 80 kilometers per hour will blow. 

The rain and winds are expected to taper down significantly on Thursday, but temperatures will remain well below seasonal averages and the skies will remain cloudy with occasional showers. 

Friday will remain cold, but slightly warmer, with partly cloudy to cloudy skies. Light local rains are possible in the north and center of the country in the afternoon. Saturday will be much the same.