Spring arrived in Israel weeks ago, but winter has returned with a vengeance. Overnight Wednesday, rains fell throughout the country, creating havoc on roads and trapping 70 American tourists in a valley in the Ramon crater in southern Israel.
Rains have been falling since Wednesday night throughout the country. As of Thursday morning, 32 millimeters of rain fell in Jerusalem, 15 mm fell in Tel Aviv, 45 mm fell in Raanana, and 47 in Lachish, near Kiryat Gat. The rains came after an extended dry period, with nearly no rain falling anywhere in Israel since late February.
Roads were closed in several places in the country, especially in the south, as wadis overflowed and inundated roads. Seventy hikers on a tour of Israel from the US have been stuck in the Nachal Huliyot reserve in southern Israel since Wednesday night, as floodwaters quickly filled in the wadis they need to cross in order to get out of the area. Large numbers of rescue workers are on the scene, attempting to extricate them.
Forecasters said that the May rains were uncommon, but not rare, because of the competing hot and cold weather systems over the Middle East during transition seasons like Spring. Rain is expected to continue throughout Thursday and into Friday, with showers still possible over the weekend.