Very heavy rain and near gale-force winds overnight Thursday marked what has been Israel’s most severe winter storm so far this year, with flooding in many areas – to the extent that the IDF warned Friday that Israelis who plan an outing to the Hermon or other areas of the Golan in the next few days need to watch out for land mines that may become uncovered by eroding soil. The army stressed that it is illegal to cross fences where signs warning against land mines are posted, and that experience has shown that extreme weather like that in Israel Thursday and Friday increased the likelihood that stray mines could become exposed.
Israelis were expected to trek to the Hermon after the storm passes, as it was closed Friday, to see the relatively rare phenomenon of snow in Eretz Yisrael. Temperatures in the Golan were around freezing, and some ten centimeters (about 4 inches) fell on the lower reaches of the mountain overnight Thursday. On the upper reaches, there is now about a foot of snow (30 cm), including the snow that fell Thursday night and in another storm earlier in the week.
Rainfall totals in the rest of the country, meanwhile, mounted to as many as 50 millimeters (almost 2 inches) in some areas. Lake Kinneret rose two centimeters overnight Thursday, and was measured Friday morning at 1.33 meters below the “lower red line,” the level deemed safe for the lake’s ecosystem to thrive. Local flooding occurred in numerous areas, but b’chasdei Shamayim there have been no reports of injuries. In Herzlyia, two vehicles got stuck in a large puddle, measuring about two feet deep, and police successfully extracted them.
The current storm is actually two different storms that are following each other in rapid succession. By Friday morning, heavy rain had tapered off to showers, but those rains will intensify and outdo the force of Thursday night’s storm, forecasters said, with heavy rain and wind expected throughout Friday afternoon into Shabbos morning. Rain should taper off during the day on Shabbos, with the storm clearing by Motzoei Shabbos.