Will the recent rains in Israel turn the tide?
By: JNS and United with Israel Staff
A massive storm front that arrived in Israel on Thursday brought with it heavy downpours spread from the north to the south, helping to abate a six-year drought that has severely depleted the Kinneret.
The storm system was accompanied by a significant drop in temperatures and risk of flooding in the Judean Desert, the Dead Sea region and the Jordan Valley. Authorities warned travelers to beware of flash floods in those areas, and issued an advisory to avoid driving on flooded roads, to adjust driving speeds and to maintain safe traveling distances.
Heavy rains dropped more than a half-inch of rain on Kibbutz Ayalon in the Western Galilee in just one hour, and the Mount Hermon site in the Golan was closed on Thursday due to the snowfall.
Heavy rains were also recorded throughout Judea and Samaria, and the Sharon and Dan regions. Hailstorms were recorded in Caesarea, Pardes Hanna-Karkur, and other parts of the Sharon coastal region.
The abundance of water was good news for the Kinneret, otherwise known as the Sea of Galilee, which has suffered through a six-year drought that has brought water levels so low that Israel’s largest body of fresh water is no longer being pumped.
As of Thursday morning, the Kinneret had risen 25 centimeters since the beginning of the winter, bringing it to 214.47 meters below sea level, but still 1.47 meters below the lower red line. That level remains below what can be used for drinking water and a mere .40 meters from the black line—a historic low below which it is believed that the Kinneret will become unpotable.
Israel has built two desalination plants on Israel’s coast, where processed Mediterranean Sea water now provides more than 70 percent of Israel’s drinking water. In August, authorities warned that if heavy rainfall does not arrive in Israel this winter, water rationing may be put into place.
Winds on the Mediterranean Sea reached up to 43 miles per hour on Thursday, and waves reached 11 feet high.
Though the storm has weakened and dissipated over the weekend, additional rains are expected later in the week.
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