Intense stormy weather socked Israel Sunday morning, killing one person, briefly shuttering an airport, bringing highways to a standstill and causing other havoc and damage in multiple cities.
In Pardes Hanna, a 20-year-old construction worker was killed when a wall in a construction site was toppled by strong winds that buffeted the area, along with heavy rains.
A 20-year-old in Hadera was seriously injured when a tree fell on the bus she was riding in.
Temperatures will remain unseasonably warm Sunday, even as the country is drenched by strong downpours that began in the morning and will grow stronger in the evening.
The small Sde Dov airport in northern Tel Aviv was closed for a few hours due to dangerous weather conditions, but has been reopened. Israel’s main international airport, Ben-Gurion Airport, saw no disruptions in service, officials said.
Strong winds of up to 90 kilometers per hour (55 miles per hour) were felt in Tel Aviv and in the Sharon region to the metropolis’s north, according to Israel’s weather service.
The strongest gusts were felt in the seaside town of Herzliya, where residents were briefly pelted with hail amid the downpour. Rains were heavy enough in the southern coastal cities of Ashdod and Ashkelon to make driving difficult.
A construction crane toppled over on Tel Aviv’s Menachem Begin Boulevard, while several streets in Tel Aviv and the nearby suburb of Givatayim were blocked due to a fallen tree.
In Haifa, the nation’s second-largest seaport has ceased operations. Work at the port is expected to be renewed by evening.
Most communities in the Hula Valley, in the north, suffered a blackout after a major power line near Kibbutz Sde Eliezer broke down.
Israel Electric Company employees were at the scene trying to restore power.
A fallen tree on the Ayalon Highway that cuts through central Tel Aviv stopped traffic at the Kibbutz Galuyot Junction. The exit to Kibbutz Galuyot was closed at 9:40 a.m. and remained closed an hour later.
One man was wounded on Safed Street in Netanya when an electricity pole fell onto a road. The poll burst into flames, sparking a fire adjacent to a school. Firefighters are battling the blaze.
The weather has caused minor blackouts in several wind-struck towns and cities, including Netanya, Ramat Hasharon, Petah Tikva and Givat Shmuel, leading to disruptions in train services in those cities. Dozens of people are trapped in elevators in city centers due to the blackouts, and emergency crews are working to extract them.
By noon, the stormy weather had moved into the Jerusalem area.
The Mediterranean is also expected to be dangerously stormy, authorities warned. Waves are expected to reach three meters (nine feet) in height.
Temperatures are nevertheless unseasonably warm, ranging from 17°-28° Celsius (63°-82° Fahrenheit) in Jerusalem, 21°-29°C (70°-84°F) in Tel Aviv and 20°-29°C (68°-84°F) in Haifa.
Temperatures are expected to drop dramatically Monday, with occasional rains and concern over flooding in desert valleys in the east and south.
Rain will continue throughout the week, forecasters say.