Israel goes under (water)

One could almost think that peace has broken out in the Middle East and that the elections next week had been cancelled for the only headlines dominating the news for the last few days has been the unbelievably stormy and wet weather across Israel (and presumably over at least part of the Middle East).

After one of the wettest Decembers on record, followed last week by a full week of glorious sunshine and very cold nights, the stormy weather returned with a vengeance on Shabbat. These last couple of days have been quite an experience for Israeli citizens.

Yesterday floods caused the closure of Herzliya train station, a mini-tsunami hit the Modi’in shopping mall, roads have been flooded or even swept away, and trees and power lines came down throughout the country due to high winds or lightning strikes.

Watch a video of the Modi’in Mall flood (h/t Israellycool).

Here are some amusing pictures from the mall as it was flooded:

Unfazed customers continue to sip coffee with flood waters flowing around them

An island of sanity?

Have a look at yesterday’s Times of Israel’s live blog:

A fierce winter storm that has been raging since Friday continued to pound the country Monday, and the Israel Meteorological Service predicts that this week could bring precipitation equal to the average rainfall for the entire month of January. Strong winds and heavy rain swept the country, and the upper region of Mount Hermon was blanketed by a heavy 40-centimeter layer of snow, with 20 centimeters falling overnight. Since the weekend, the Sea of Galilee rose 17 centimeters, and winds of 60-80 km/h (37-50 mph) were reported, with gusts of up to 120 km/h (75 mph).

Tree fallen on a car in Jerusalem

Herzliya train station, reminiscent of pictures from Hurricane Sandy

Today the winds are not quite as strong but the rain has intensified. In my own town of Petach Tikva the traffic is completely snarled; I’ve heard from various family members of their difficulty in getting to work; and the latest headlines now are “Do not travel to Tel Aviv. It’s closed”.  As some wit remarked some years ago, “Every few years the Ayalon (a major highway) remembers that it is a river and overflows”.

The Ayalon highway has been closed on both directions from the Glilot interchange to the Kibbutz Galuyot intersection on Tuesday morning due to flooding.

Heavy traffic was recorded in highways 2 and 4 and Traffic Police are calling on Israelis to avoid traveling to Tel Aviv barring an emergency.

Meanwhile, the Tel Aviv Municipality announced Tuesday it was preparing to evacuate residents for fear of floods in the city’s southern and northern neighborhoods.

Police fear that the Ayalon River will overflow and have therefore decided to close the highway – for the first time in a decade. It was further noted that the water level measured at the HaShalom interchanged reached 40 centimeters.

Some (not very) bright sparks decided an inner-tube float down the Ayalon is exactly what is called for on a stormy day like today. 🙂

The pictures from the Ayalon are quite amazing:

Flooded Ayalon highway

A man stands in knee-deep water on the Ayalon highway

The source of the Yarkon River is just outside Petach Tikva:

Yarkon River overflows

The rainy weather (I won’t call it bad – it’s excellent news for Israel) has affected all parts of the country of course, not just the Tel Aviv region, as the ToI reports:

Route 90 near the Dead Sea was also shut down due to flooding and schools were canceled in the Tamar Regional Council.

Several dry riverbeds in the desert area have experienced flash floods over the last days, with cars being swept away and people needing to be rescued.

The weather also led to road closures in the West Bank. Police blocked off Highways 50 and 66. Highway 443, between Beit Horon and Jerusalem, was reportedly being closed intermittently. Police later reopened the roads.

In the large West Bank settlement of Modi’in Ilit, the overflowing Modi’in stream overtook a southern neighborhood, trapping resident in their homes. A man trying to cross the surge was swept away and rescued by emergency crews.


Israel has experienced heavy rains and wind since the weekend, with flooding and felled trees reported from the Negev to the north. On Sunday and Monday, several train stations along the coast were closed for flooding, as well as the Azrieli mall in the central city of Modi’in.

While flooded roads and downed trees and power lines have made getting around a nightmare, Israel’s largest water reservoir, the Sea of Galilee, has continued to rise, with 22 centimeters of water being added in the last 24 hours, according to Israel Radio.

After several years of dropping water levels, the lake’s water level now sits less than 10 feet below its maximum, with forecasters expecting several more centimeters in the coming days.

Officials in Jerusalem are also preparing for the possibility of snow on Wednesday, as temperatures dip below freezing in the mountainous areas of the country.

Here are some pictures from Jerusalem and elsewhere (from Arutz Sheva Hebrew):

Flooded Jerusalem promenade

Flash flood in Wadi Kelt

Nachal Shiloh in full flood flow

To finish off, click this link to watch this incredible video of a flash flood in Ein Harod. (Sorry, I can’t embed the video). The speed of the water is truly terrifying.

May all our troubles be from the weather, and may all the water be for a blessing.

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16 Responses to Israel goes under (water)

  1. rrW says:

    waiting for the snow in Jlem

  2. Debby says:

    Anne, I hope you are safe and comfortable! We’re in a drought. 😦

    • anneinpt says:

      We’re perfectly safe Debby. Just a bit wet when we go out. :-). Though my son couldn’t get to university yesterday or to work today, but the rain is supposed to stop on Thursday. And Israel needs the water so badly, so every drop is precious.

      Despite the terrible weather, you’ll see most Israelis walking around smiling about the rain. Of course there have been many people who have been adversely affected by the weather – people whose homes or businesses have been flooded, and of course the farmers. I hope the government compensates them properly without hassle.

      • Earl says:

        The world over, annie- the farmer’s lament: “Too little rain. Too much rain”.

        I noticed throughput IL frequently what I had assumed were floodplains- but with nil precipitation experienced and 25+oC in November, I assumed that these where historical geographic features. Clearly, I was wrong 😉 I’m glad that you’re seeing some precipitation- must be those Zionist hair rays at work (or something?).

        • anneinpt says:

          “Some precipitation” – understatement of the century, LOL! Thank G-d we’ve had one of our wettest winters ever, and there are still a couple of months to go. The melting snows will also add to our underground reservoirs and aquifers. This year reminds me of the winter of 91-92 when it actually snowed in Petach Tikva for the first time in 50 years. People are still arguing that it was hail, but I know what snow looks and sounds like – or rather, doesn’t sound like. It falls silently.

          I doubt it’s going to snow here, but it’s COLD (8°C in the day is freezing for us) but it’s snowing quite heavily all around the country: in the northern mountains, the central mountains (Jerusalem, Hebron etc.) and the Shomron (Samaria) mountains. So in other words, everywhere except the coastal plain. We’ve just got the rain, hail and howling winds.

          My parents’ road gets flooded every time it rains despite the fact that the city council replaced the drainage pipes a few years ago. Yesterday my mum reported seeing empty drink cans and other rubbish floating along the road outside their house. The road has become a river. But seriously, people are HAPPY about the weather – at least those not directly harmed by it.

          My newly married daughter in Gush Etzion (Etzion Bloc, near Hebron) is enjoying the first snowfall of her life. She sent us a photo of her kissing a snowman. 😀 Perhaps I’ll post some photos in another post.

        • anneinpt says:

          As for the 25+°C in November, that is not all that unusual. It doesn’t normally start to get cold till December, and by March the weather is warming up already. By the end of April we’re back in summer clothes, perhaps with a light sweater.

          This year was no different, except for the fact that it poured through most of November. It doesn’t necessarily get cold when it rains. Most confusing for us ex-Europeans.

  3. NormanF says:

    The words of the Prophet come to life:

    I will fill the cisterns with water and the desert shall bloom and rivers shall run through it and the sea that is dead shall have life in it.

    Only the last prophecy has yet to be fulfilled!

    • anneinpt says:

      That depends on how you look at it. The Dead Sea has a surprising amount of life in it, and of course around it too, especially if you include all the Dead Sea industries providing a livelihood (and life?) to so many Israelis.

  4. tzfonit rechoka says:

    the link you posted doesn’t work….or you forgot to put the actual link itself

    • anneinpt says:

      Which link is that? The one to the flash flood? Or one of the others? They all work with me. It’s your computer’s settings: your anti-virus or the stupid Rimon blocker.

  5. reality says:

    well we had enough hail to cover our playground & bring plates of it in to show the kids -they have never seen this before!What fun, I actually bought my son a coat for the first time ever! Now where is that snow?My cousins son (who is very tall) was lifted off the pavement 2 days ago when he went out in Jerusalem & opened his umbrella(why? there was no point!)

    • anneinpt says:

      Wow! I was in the office when it hailed. We heard it and looked out of the window but then returned to the grindstone. Didn’t realize there was that much.

      Vered said it’s started snowing in Elazar but she still has to go to work. I suppose she could ski home. 🙂

      The umbrella story still has me chuckling at the picture I see in my head. 😀

  6. reality says:

    according to my colleague it “snowed” for about 2 minutes at about 7.30 at night in Petach Tiqva -so she told me this morning. She said it wasn’t hail but I blinked & missed it!

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