Hailstorm in Haifa, Waterspout Near Tel Aviv

YERUSHALAYIM -

It was gishmei brachah, and then some, as northern and central Israel saw brief but heavy rain, strong winds, hail and a waterspout on Monday.

In the Haifa suburbs, three people were lightly hurt when winds knocked down a tree branch and, in two cases,  by windows flying open or shattering. The storm lasted only a few minutes, beginning just before 6 a.m. Large hailstones reportedly caused damage to cars and power lines.

In Yerushalayim, four people were injured — two moderately, andtwo lightly — after a bus hydroplaned down Keren HaYesod street early Monday. One person was caught underneath the bus and had to be rescued by emergency crews.

Two women, 42 and 20, were taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital with head injuries in moderate condition.

In Holon and Bat Yam, there was flooding and traffic was disrupted. An elderly man was lightly hurt in Holon when a bus station collapsed after a road caved in.

In Tel Aviv, people witnessed a waterspout that formed off the city’s coastline, extending from the clouds all the way down to the waters of the Mediterranean.

“It looked like a mini-hurricane over the ocean,” Moshe Asaraf, a resident of Yaffa, told Ynet.

“It was a spectacular sight. People stopped everything and looked up at the sky. I never saw anything like it in my life,” said Asaraf.

“It occurs due to the temperatures of the Mediterranean sea, which stand at 25 degrees Celsius during this season,” explained Meteo-Tech’s meteorologist Tzachi Vekesman. “In contrast, cold wind gusts originating from Europe can occasionally penetrate the upper layers of the atmosphere. The difference in temperature between them and the Mediterranean causes strong vertical cloud currents.”

A strong suction effect can occur that is strong enough to create a waterspout.

“Although the phenomenon has a similar appearance to a tornado, the waterspout only occurs over the sea, and when it reaches land, the waters  vacuumed in from the ocean toward the cloud are thrust toward the land and the pillar dissipates,” Vekesman said.

More rain was expected on Monday and Tuesday, but then the outlook was for “at least a few days of warm and dry weather,” another meteorolgist said.