Parts of Israel Paralyzed by Flooding as Winter Rain Sweeps In

Flooding destroyed a substantial amount of private property and shut down some cities' main arteries.

The storm that hit Israel Wednesday shut down parts of Tel Aviv and other coastal plain cities, and resulted in flooding in low lying residential areas.

In Tel Aviv, early risers found that one of the city's main arteries, Ibn Gvirol Street - which connects the city's northern part to its center - was closed to traffic between Jabotinsky Street and Arlozorov Street.

The closure was the result of a large pothole that formed near the Shekem department store, brought on by the rain. The city dispatched a large maintenance team to fix the hole, but the street was not opened for traffic before noon.

Three people have suffered weather related injuries since Tuesday night, when the rain began to pick up. One was injured at Tel Hashomer's Sheba Medical Center, where a tree collapsed on a dormatory for the institution's medical staff. The man was diagnosed with minor injuries and treated on site.

The second injury occurred in Netanya, where a driver sustained moderate injuries when a tree collapsed on her car while she was in it. The third injury happened near Sde Boker in the Negev, when a man fell off a ladder in the Ein Ovdat nature reserve. The man, who probably slipped because of flooding damage to the ladder, was evacuated by helicopter to a medical facility, where he was diagnosed with minor injuries.

Flooding destroyed a substantial amount of private property in homes in the Argazim neighborhood in Tel Aviv. The flooding there - which occurs on an almost annual basis - prompted police, firefighters and even the coast guard to dispatch rescue teams to the area.

Or Yehuda, near Lod, also had flooding problems in some of its neighborhoods. Some streets were completely inundated, making it impossible for residents to leave home.

The hard rains and powerful winds of up to 80 kilometers per hour caused severe traffic disruptions at the Aluf Sadeh Junction near Kiryat Ono and in nearby Ganei Tikvah as well.

In the north, a number of people were rescued after they were trapped in their cars in rising water. In the Golan Heights, the stormy weather brought the first snow of the year to Mount Hermon, leaving a white blanket four inches deep across the slopes of the mountain. The flurries were the earliest the mountain has had snowfall in several years.

The weather has lead to a warning of flooding in rivers and tributaries in the north, and hikers have been asked to exercise caution.

About 250 passengers aboard an El Al flight to Hong Kong got an up-close view of the storm last night, when two lightning bolts hit the aircraft. The electric surges struck the plane's lightning rod, leaving the plane and its systems unharmed.

The weather is expected to stay cold until Saturday, when it should warm up enough to leave the heavy jackets and scarves at home.

Zohar Blumenkrantz contributed to this article