Rare Sukkot Winds Bring Down Power Lines Across Israel

Winds gusting up to 60 kilometers an hour cause power outages from Haifa Bay area as far south as Yavneh.

Stormy weather greeted the first day of Sukkot Monday, causing power outages from the Haifa Bay area to as far south as Yavneh. Winds gusted up to 60 kilometers an hour in some areas.

The Israel Electric Corporation said most of the blackouts had been caused by branches striking cables, but power had been restored in most places.

Some people said they had to wait more than an hour for an IEC operator to answer their call. In some parts of Kfar Sava, the blackout lasted from the holiday eve to Monday afternoon. Customers said intermittent power damaged electric appliances.

The IEC asked people to remove any items from their roofs that could blow off in high winds and damage nearby power lines. It also warned people to keep away from downed, live lines.

Most of the country saw a few millimeters of rain, while a cloudburst over the Arava led to flooding in some areas. There were outages in towns and cities including Kiryat Bialik, Iron-Katzir, Kfar Sava, Nes Tziona, Bnei Brak and parts of Tel Aviv.

The holiday's unseasonably hot weather will continue Tuesday, although it will cool down a bit with a touch of rain. On Thursday, temperatures will return to seasonable levels.

Park visitors undeterred

The stormy weather did not stop holiday visitors from flocking to nature and recreation sites. The Israel Nature and Parks Authority said 120,000 visitors came to its sites, the most popular being Ein Gedi Nature Reserve and Caesarea National Park.

Travelers in the north viewed pelicans and hawks crossing the skies on their migration from Europe to Africa.

The Jewish National Fund reported 30,000 visitors to its sites, including Lake Agmon in the Hula Valley, the Birya and Beit Keshet forests in the north, as well as the Ben Shemen and Aminadav forests and the Sataf ancient agriculture site in the center of the country.

In the Golan Heights, the Mount Bental lookout into Syria attracted many visitors.

Many families came on Monday to Kibbutz Ein Gev on the shores of Lake Kinneret to enjoy fishing and sailing on a research vessel where they could examine lake water in an onboard laboratory.

Several kibbutzim are holding special events to celebrate their founding this week. Sha'ar Hagolan in the northern Jordan Valley celebrated its 75th birthday on the holiday eve with a special show first presented 50 years ago. Sha'ar Hagolan and Kibbutz Massada also mark their founding - during Sukkot 1937 as part of the "tower and stockade" settlement of prestate Israel.

Kibbutz Hefziba at the foot of Mount Gilboa is celebrating its establishment 90 years ago this week. Kibbutz Ramat Hakovesh, north of Kfar Sava, is marking its 80th birthday.