A freak spring wind storm downed trees in Israel's southern resort city of Eilat as tens of thousands of Israelis were enjoying the last days of the Passover holiday. Dozens of cars were damaged by downed trees. Police and municipality crews were dispatched to help evaluate and clean up the damage.
The wind storm began at about 11 AM local time, with southerly winds hitting speeds of up to 80 kilometers per hour hitting the city. The winds not only felled trees, but also cleared the beaches of any bathers; within minutes, the usually calm Gulf of Eilat was a maelstrom, with waves up to 1.5 meters (nearly five feet) high recorded.
Thousands of people called municipality emergency numbers, and police advised residents to find shelter inside buildings and remain there – and above all, to stay away from trees, until they could be inspected for damage, to ensure that they would not topple.
The wind storm that hit the city was a relatively rare phenomenon, called a “southern storm,” that hits Eilat perhaps once or twice a year. The event is typified by strong winds coming from the south, as opposed to the northerly winds that Eilat generally experiences. Sunday's storm was one of the fiercest in recent years, city officials said.