2 Palestinians die from Mideast storm flash flood

A Palestinian woman passes keys to a person on the other side of a flooded road in the West Bank of Jenin, Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. Stormy weather, including high winds and heavy rainfall, lashed Israel and the Palestinian territories, downing power-lines and trees. (AP Photo/Mohammed Ballas)

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — A Palestinian official says the fiercest storm to hit the area in a decade has claimed the lives of two West Bank women who drowned after their car was caught in a flash flood unleashed by torrential rains.

Nablus deputy governor Annan Atirah says the women abandoned their vehicle after it got stuck on a flooded road Tuesday. He says the bodies, apparently swept away by surging waters, were found Wednesday, and the car's driver was hospitalized in critical condition.

In Gaza, civil defense spokesman Mohammed al-Haj Yousef said storms have cut electricity powering thousands of homes and rescuers were sent to evacuate dozens of people.

Parts of Israel were bracing for snow a day after the military was forced to send helicopters and rubber dinghies to rescue stranded residents.