These extreme events were all connected to an intense weather disturbance that arrived in the Middle East from the Mediterranean Sea early this week. Few countries in the region were untouched.
In two days, some places in Israel received a third of the rain they would expect in a year, the New York Times reported.
Tel Aviv received an inch of rain in an hour, while Jerusalem was drenched by about two inches, Haaretz.com reported. Some areas were also hit by hail.
Yeshiva World News, an online publication, described the flooding in Israel as “epic.” Social media video showed floodwater pouring through streets, homes and businesses.
In addition to the 10 Israeli teenagers who were swept away while hiking near the Dead Sea, flooding also took the lives of two teenagers from a Bedouin community and two Palestinian children.
Despite the loss of life, Yeshiva World News reported that Israel’s Water Authority described the rain as “important, blessed and good.” It came in the midst of a long-term drought in the region.
Torrential rains also hit Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, causing flooding. On Wednesday, parts of Egypt were “impassable” because of high water, CBS News reported. In Cairo, floodwater inundated roads and stranded vehicles.
To the south, on the storm’s dry side in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, strong winds collected sand and dust from the desert, forming monstrous dust storms. The Kuwait Times said the dust caused visibility “to drop drastically.”
— WMO | OMM (@WMO) April 26, 2018
In Saudi Arabia, a video posted to social media showed an airplane engulfed in sand as it landed at Jazan Regional Airport in the southwestern corner of the country.
REPOST to correct location. #Sand and #dust storms are impacting Arabian Gulf. Video via Nestor Santayana and @climatewithout borders of the approach to Jazan airport, southern Saudi Arabia, on Thursday. WMO sand and dust warning forecasts are issued by @Dust_Barcelona pic.twitter.com/QejizwFbTV
— WMO | OMM (@WMO) April 27, 2018
The chaotic weather was unleashed when the disturbance, loaded with cold air at high altitudes and able to draw moisture off the Mediterranean, moved over the hot, dry desert. The atmosphere turned extremely unstable because of the colliding air masses.
This same disturbance had undercut a massive heat dome that formed over Western Europe last week and brought record heat to Paris and London.
The disturbance is progressing east and is expected to weaken, meaning improving conditions in the Middle East this weekend.