Emergency services in Israel prepare for flooding, high winds as storm nears

JERUSALEM—Israelis battened down the hatches Thursday and emergency and rescue services finalized preparations as meteorologists predicted the first major storm of the winter would hit the country beginning Thursday, likely accompanied by flooding.

The Israel Meteorological Service published warnings that severe thunderstorms would dump up to 100 millimeters of rain on the coast and coastal plain and in South Coast regions, as well as significant levels of snow to Mount Hermon, flooding to the coastal region. The Service also predicted 80 kilometer-an-hour winds, with gusts of up to 100 kilometers, beginning Friday afternoon. Waves could reach between six and eight meters.

In advance of the storm, Fire and Rescue Services said emergency teams had completed equipment checks, including rubber boats, pumps, electric saws, generators and other rescue equipment. The fire department said that rescue crews would be on high alert to respond to emergency calls.

In addition, Israel Police said volunteer squads had been mobilized in the Judean Desert region to respond in the event of flash floods. The Israel Airports Authority added that all domestic flights have been moved from Sde Dov Airport, in the north of the city, to Ben Gurion International Airport.