Tourists visiting Israel for the first time, and in many cases the only time, need to be aware of one major problem: flash floods. Israel is home to rapid, sudden flooding that can be dangerous and even deadly in many cases.
Last December, a 74-year-old man died in Haifa due to flood waters.
The man was driving in Haifa tunnel when his car became trapped in the flood waters claiming his life. Hypothermia, combined with flooding, is a very dangerous prospect for any tourist coming to Israel.
Powerful thunderstorms are known to hit the area in December causing as much as 150mm of rain to fall in less than 24 hours last year. The storm caused traffic to come to a standstill and interrupted many tourists’ plans.
Hikers are especially impacted from flood waters. Israel can have a beautiful, blue sky free of any clouds mimicking the perfect conditions for a hike near the Dead Sea. The conditions can change quickly with the hikers, often experienced, not understanding that the mountain’s steam-beds don’t absorb much water leading to intense run-off.
The elevation difference leads the water from a trickle to a surge as it descends. Water and stone begin to mix together in a deadly combination that can kill hikers on impact. The same scenario occurred over Ein Gedi’s Nahal Arugot, knocking out a bridge in its entirety.
Tourists, not understanding the severity of the issue, often continue to drive or go about their daily plans not knowing how quick flash floods occur in the country.
There’s little that can be done to stop the flash floods. The country’s sewer systems are well-maintained, and there isn’t much need for trenchless sewer repair. A lot of the sewer-related problems come from Gaza.
Tourists have a few things that they can do to make sure that they stay out of the clutches of flash floods:
- Check the weather. Local forecasts can provide tourists with some insight into a potential flash flood. Reports of any type of storm should be met with caution, especially in areas prone to flooding.
- Flood prone awareness. Areas that are prone to flooding are well-known. Check to see if the area you plan on visiting has flooded in the past. Avoiding these areas, especially when the forecast calls for rain, is a smart choice.
- Out driving is not smart. Flood waters come up quickly, and while an automobile may travel fast, it’s no match for rapid flood waters. It’s best to stay in an area that has less of a risk of flooding than drive into the middle of danger.
Tourists that do get stuck in a flash flood need to move to the highest ground possible and try to avoid becoming submerged. Even just your feet being submerged can lead to rapid body temperature drops and severe health risks.
Avoid streams and areas with bodies of water to avoid potential overflow.
Hiking and traveling with others is recommended. Nature reserves have experts who can be consulted on weather conditions. These experts may also work for tour companies, but they’re more than willing to lend advice to tourists that are at risk of being in the middle of a flash flood.