Forecasters Stumped Over Post-Pesach 'Flood'

Israel was hit with an unusually late winter storm Sunday, with rainfall levels not seen in decades during early April.

With spring already in the air - and Passover just completed - Israelis awoke on their first full day back at work since before the beginning of the holiday more than a week ago to heavy rain, thunder and lightning, and even dustings of hail in higher elevation areas in Gush Etzion, according to reports. Residents of Tel Aviv and the coast watched as wave after wave of dark, angry-looking clouds wafted through the sky, dumping rainfall that seemed more appropriate for February than for April.

Forecasters said that they were stumped about the cause of the storm. While rain storms in late winter/early spring are not uncommon, this front had all the features of a winter storm.

Only the fact that the upper atmosphere has been warm for the past several weeks prevented the precipitation from falling as snow in many parts of the country, considering the low surface temperatures, which in Jerusalem and the hilly areas of the center of the country were close to freezing overnight Saturday.

The country was subjected to an August-style heat wave just last Wednesday, which warmed up the atmosphere considerably, forecasters said, so snow was out; with that, however, hail fell in some of the upper elevations of Judea and Samaria, and the Hermon saw its first April snow since 1980.

Meanwhile, the late rain was doing the Kinneret much good; the northern lake rose 4.5 centimeters since 3 PM Friday. Over the 48 hours hence, 47 millimeters of rain fell in the lake.

The storm is set to clear out Sunday night, but temperatures will remain relatively chilly all week. Forecasters said there was another chance of rain Wednesday - but this time, it was likely to be a true "spring storm," replete with higher temperatures, and possibly including the dreaded "mud rain" that often falls during the spring and fall, which veteran Israelis know marks the end of one season and the beginning of the next.

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