Transport chaos as huge storm sweeps through Israel

Traffic grinds to a halt in Tel Aviv (Photo: Flash 90)

Traffic grinds to a halt in Tel Aviv (Photo: Flash 90)

Israel has ground to a halt in what is being called the worst storm in a decade.

Roads, railways and airports have shut, rivers have reached capacity and now community centres are being opened in preparation for potential evacuations.

The Ayalon River near Tel Aviv, normally dry, has now burst its banks as a storm system engulfed central Israel in the early hours of Tuesday. The river is showing its highest water flow in 20 years.

Community centres in Tel Aviv have been opened in preparation for potential evacuations and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai has said that the city is prepared to help people leave their homes if necessary.

Parts of the Ayalon Highway near the Ayalon River have been closed, as has Highway 1 and parts of many other roads. Israeli Police have asked drivers to stay out of central Tel Aviv and avoid driving if possible.

Many train stations in and around Tel Aviv have closed and railway traffic has been severely disrupted. The Rosh Pina and Megiddo airports are closed and some flights have moved departures from Sde Tov airport in Tel Aviv to Ben Gurion.

The Israel Meteorological Service said that winds have reached 85kph and Mount Hermon has seen 15cm of snow. The storm is forecast to continue into Thursday.

Last updated: 2:54pm, January 8 2013