Israelis rescued from flooded cars, homes in heavy winter rains

Major storm dumps several inches of water in some parts of the country, flooding roads and homes.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A major winter storm Wednesday caused flooding in several parts of Israel and forced the rescue of dozens of people trapped in flooded vehicles and homes.

Along the coast, several people were rescued after being trapped by flood waters in their homes in Herzliya and Ramat Hasharon, while fire and rescue crews rescued passengers from several vehicles stranded in the water in the Galilee area and the cities of Hadera and Yavne.

The rains were good news for Israel’s water levels. The precipitation helps refill underwater aquifers, and the level of the Sea of Galilee, Israel’s only freshwater lake, rose three centimeters (1.2 inches) and is expected to continue to rise over the next few days as runoff from the storm makes its way to the lake.

Owing to several years of prolonged drought in the region, the 166-square-kilometer (64 square mile) Sea of ​​Galilee had dropped to dangerously low levels that threatened the quality of the water. However, the two previous winters proved to be very wet with the lake level rising by a record of 3.47 meters (11.4 feet) in the winter of 2018-2019 followed by another very wet winter last year.

The lake level is now 1.3 meters (4.3 feet) below the top red line at which point the national water authority will open floodgates to allow excess water to flow into the Jordan River that runs down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea. Several centimeters of snow fell on Mt. Hermon in the northern Golan Heights.

In the past day, above average amounts of precipitation were recorded in several locations around the country including a whopping 158 millimeters (6.2 inches) of rain in Kibbutz Hazorea in the Jezreel Valley, 70 mm (2.8 inches) in Acre and 43 mm (1.7 inches) in the port of Ashdod, where numerous roads in the city were blocked by high water.

Israeli meteorologist Barry Lynn predicts the rain will taper off and end by Friday and be followed by several days of clear skies. However, another storm is forecast to arrive in the region next week bringing cool temperatures and more rain, but no snow yet, to Jerusalem and Bethlehem for Christmas eve.