The wind is still howling through the Negev and the snow has piled up in the ski resort of Mount Hermon, where operators already had closed down the access road before the first flakes fell.
By 9 am some 50 centimeters (20 inches) of snow had fallen at the ski resort.
Snow has continued to fall in the Golan Heights and the Galilee, with some gusts of up to 80 kilometer-per-hour (50 mph) winds.
By 10:30 am, the white stuff was drifting down on to the holy city of Jerusalem. At midday, a shopper in the capital told em>JewishPress.com that the supermarket he was in was flooding from “who knows where.”
A Jerusalem supermarket is flooded by a winter storm.
“J.R.” reported it was “freezing, just freezing” in Jerusalem and that “everything – you name it – is coming down from the skies.”
Hail pelts a car parked in Jerusalem.
Snow was continuing to fall in Jerusalem, Gush Etzion and Kiryat Arba at 1:30 pm Monday. Rain, sleet, and some hail mixed with snow were spotted in the northern Negev as well.
Roads around the Dead Sea region – in particular, Highway 90 – closed down due to flooding.
Freezing and close to freezing temperatures are expected to continue in Jerusalem and points north.
Temperatures are expected to be a bit warmer in Tel Aviv and Be’er Sheva.
Jewish organizations are raising disaster-relief funds following the devastating flooding in Texas earlier this week, during which Houston’s Jewish community sat at the center of the damage experienced by that city.
Countless Jewish homes and multiple synagogues were among the structures damaged following rain that exceeded 11 inches in some areas on Monday and Tuesday.
The Orthodox Union, which is raising flood-relief funds, sent its senior managing director, Rabbi Steven Weil, to help assess the damage on site in Houston.
B’nai B’rith International opened its Flood, Tornado and Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund in the city following the Houston flood.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston is raising flood-relief funds in Houston, noting that “many in our community have lost everything” in the hardest-hit neighborhood. Other Jewish Federations around the country are raising relief funds for Houston.
At the same time, local Jewish community is trying to focus on the positive, and Rabbi Barry Gelman, the leader of a heavily flood-damaged Orthodox synagogue, wrote to his congregants:
Let us focus on repairing what was ruined and rededicating ourselves to what makes UOS (United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston) so special, the community. After all, what is really special about us are the people that make up our community. That is what is indispensable—the building can always be fixed.
The sun peeked out just long enough Thursday afternoon for Israelis to see the flooding caused by the “sound and light show” they endured over Wednesday night.
Cracks of thunder and long streaks of lightning interspersed with the downpour that sent sheets of rain down through the skies over Israel, drenching the entire country.
Downpours at this time of year are unusual but not unheard of, meteorologist said. By mid-afternoon Thursday, the skies in southern Israel were once again filled with leaden clouds that appeared once more to be pregnant with rain. It was not clear whether in fact more precipitation was on the way; the forecast calls for the possibility for rain, continuing even into as Friday morning.
Rain is considered a blessing in this part of the world no matter when it arrives. There has been a 2.5-centimeter (one inch) rise in the water level of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) as a result of the record-breaking downpour.
But some may have seen it as a mixed blessing: Fifteen members of the Bnei Akiva youth group were trapped in a southern Israeli parking lot due to the flooding. They were rescued by special teams and evacuated from the scene by helicopter. IDF vehicles prepared to enter the area to help evacuate remaining hikers who had been touring in the area.
Bezeq phone lines were still down around the Dead Sea area at midday and service was sporadic at best.
Cell phone companies were scrambling to restore service in the central region. In the Jerusalem area, Cellcom customers reported all kinds of difficulties in placing their calls and in sending text messages Thursday afternoon.
The company had not formulated a response to the complaints by mid-afternoon.
Further south, near Eilat, Route 90 was still closed to traffic by late afternoon due to flash flooding that swamped the road after a night of thunder and lightning that swept Israel from north to south. Route 31, which had been closed earlier in the day, is now open.
The blessing for rain may have been left behind for the winter season, but the Heavens re-opened on Wednesday night anyway with additional blessings for the Land of Israel.
The entire country was hit and the rainstorms that began overnight are carrying on through Thursday and expected to continue possibly into Friday. Storms of this intensity are unusual in Israel in May, but not unheard of.
Communities in Gush Etzion were left without power overnight. Main highways were shut down due to flooding around the Dead Sea and in the northeastern Negev city of Arad at least one home was flooded due to cracks in a ceiling where the roof gave way.
There were also reports of numerous Bezeq telephone lines being knocked out at the southern end of the Dead Sea, in the Ein Bokek area, due to flooding in the region.
Israeli rescue teams are warning the public about the dangers of trying to cross flooded terrain across the country. Even if the flow of the waters appears to be weak, warned officials, there is simply no way to measure the water’s depth and strength.
Waves can be intense and suddenly rise to flip a car over, officials explained. Floods also loosen rocks, which can easily trap a car within the flow of the water. If a driver encounters a flood while driving, he or she is advised to wait until the rush of the water has stopped entirely before continuing to drive. Failing that option, turn around and head back. Better safe than sorry, in all cases.
Anyone who requires assistance is advised to dial 100, the Israel Police.
Due to the flooding, Route 90 is still closed to traffic in both directions from the Dergot Peaks to the hotel strip at Ein Bokek. The same road has been shut down at the northern end of the Dead Sea up to the Arava Junction as well. Traffic police are deployed at both locations to head off unwary travelers.
In addition, Route 31 heading down to the Dead Sea has also been closed.
A massive “derecho” collection of several thunderstorms packing gusts of up to 100 miles an hour along a span of 240 miles is in its early stages of formation as storms roll eastward from the Midwest and are expected to bring flooding to the New York and New England area.
The word “derecho” is Spanish for “straight,” characterizing the straight-line winds that are forecast to devastate areas where 20 percent of American until Friday.
The potentially massive storm system is a collection of storms that join together, creating a potentially deadly blow from Chicago to Baltimore and possibly into Philadelphia. High winds and heavy rains are predicted for the New York area, particularly eastern Long Island, and along the New England coast.
Last year, a derecho smacked into 11 states and Washington, killing 13 people, downing trees and causing power blackouts and $1 billion in damage.
The storm is 240 miles wide and is expected to travel 50 miles, starting with thunderstorm Wednesday afternoon and evening in northern Illinois, according to AccuWeather.
Tornados are possible.
If the thunderstorms connect, as expected, the system will be in the form of a bow that will develop into a derecho.
One of the worst facets of the derecho is the surprise factor.
Accu Weather advised, “If you will be out and about or have any plans Wednesday afternoon through the night, you will need to pay special attention to the weather as this could be a particularly dangerous situation…
“Keep in mind that lightning is one of Mother Nature’s most dangerous killers. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning, even if the sun is still shining.”
“It’s a pretty high threat,” said Bill Bunting, operations chief at the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla. “We don’t want to scare people, but we want them to be aware.”
The storms will move so fast that “by the time you see the dark sky and distant thunder you may have only minutes to get to safe shelter,” Bunting added.
The derecho is not expected to be as savage as previous ones that hit the United States last year, in 2003 and 2006, but damage and flooding might be more extensive.
The “best case” scenario I that the thunderstorms will not connect. “It’s like predicting a large tornado is going to happen. No one can do that. The only thing we can do is say conditions are favorable for one to happen,” said MSNBC meteorologist Bill Karins.
The rainstorms that began over the weekend in Israel have only intensified, with strong winds of up to 100 kilometers per hour in Jerusalem, overflowing rivers in Tel Aviv, overturned parked mopeds in Efrat, closed roads around the country, and snow on parts of the Hermon mountain.
Jerusalemites are eagerly anticipating the possibility of snow on Tuesday or Wednesday.
The Herzliya train station is closed due to flooding, and on Sunday, seven people had to be rescued from a trapped elevator in the station.