Early summer rains interrupt Shavuot

Thursday, May 16, 2013 |  Vanessa Biermann

The biblical festival of Shavuot is a late spring event that rarely, if ever, sees any rain in Israel. But this year, the holiday was a wet one, indeed.

Israelis typically flock to national parks to celebrate Shavuot, but attendance on Wednesday was way down as heavy rains and thunderstorms forced many to mark the holiday at home.

In the northern Jezreel Valley, all holiday events had to be canceled, and the port city of Haifa experienced serious flooding. A number of cars, shops and homes were damaged by the water.

While most just tried to minimize the damage and stay safe, some took advantage of the situation to enjoy a few laps around the city in their kayaks.

In the area of the Dead Sea, rescue crews had to save six people, including three children, who had become trapped by flash floods.

"This is real winter," said one meteorologist. "It looks as if we are in February, not May."

One positive side of the surprise rain was that the Sea of Galilee, Israel's largest fresh water reservoir, began to rise again after most had expected it to settle in to its long summer evaporation.

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