Israel is a country that is used to the warm summer weather. So, when winter strikes, it catches many Israelis off-guard.
By Zevi Pilzer, United with Israel
Located in the southwest of the Middle East and with about 60% of its land being desert, Israel is a warm country. Some might even claim that winter in Israel lasts during the months of December and January alone.
However, one thing cannot be taken away from the Israeli winter: When it strikes, it strikes hard.
Since last Thursday, heavy rainfall has been felt across the country, accompanied by strong winds, thunderstorms, low temperatures and snowfall at Mount Hermon. And while this may sound like a normal winter day in most countries around the world, in Israel this causes several interesting and unusual phenomena.
First, Israel is home to the lowest point on Earth – the Dead Sea – measuring at 401 meters (1315 feet) below sea level. When the Judean mountains – which sit above it to the west – experience heavy rainfall, it is common to see some truly unique: flash floods rushing through the Judean Desert on their way down towards the Dead Sea.
Secondly, being a country that is not used to large amounts of rain, the sewer infrastructure in certain areas in Israel is not always up for the challenge. This often results in serious floods across several cities in central Israel, which lead to roads becoming rivers and underground parking lots becoming indoor lakes.
While many Israelis love the winter, which is rather scarce in comparison to the summer, others suffer from its occasional results. When parking lots are flooded, drivers cannot reach their cars, and when roads are blocked, pedestrians have a hard time even crossing the street.
However, despite causing seasonal discomfort, Israel cannot afford to complain that winter has arrived. The Jewish state has indeed been a global pioneer when it comes to maximizing water usage, whether through desalination plants or inventing the drip irrigation system. But while that is all good and well, one historic truth remains unchanged: Israel, like any other dry country around the world, needs the rain.
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