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Rain, Floods, and Snow…in Israel!

June 4, 2012
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Rain Raises the Sea

On January 2, a reporter for Arutz Sheva wrote: “The winter season, which normally should be filled with rain, has measured up to only 72 percent of the multi-year average rainfall thus far…Nevertheless, if January through March 2012 are filled with rain, Israel might yet luck out, and break the cycle [of drought]…”

Well, it wasn’t “luck,” but in January, Israel—often advertised as a land that knows sunshine 300 days out of the year—broke an all-time record with the highest number of rainy days in one month: 29 of its 31 days! Those of us living here dared not complain and wore our rain gear with joy as we watched the Sea of Galilee rise centimeter by centimeter, even 2.5 centimeters (an inch) within 24 hours! This enabled the Mekorot Water Company to dismantle an artificial dam they had used to raise the level of the water for the pumps.

The tributaries in the North that feed the Jordan River, and thus the Galilee, were full too. February is the best time to view the waterfalls in Israel, as they dry up in the heat of summer. Last year, I took at trip to the Iyon Stream at Metulla on the Lebanese border. In full force, this “stream” is a river that races through a deep canyon producing four waterfalls. Though it was beautiful last year, this year, the water was so abundant that I couldn’t stand on the observation platforms closest to the falls without getting wet from its spray, and the river itself was nothing but white froth.

Floods Sweep the Desert

Flood in Negev
With the heavy rains came flash floods in the North as well as the desert in the South. I googled “2012 Israel flash floods” to view them. The most amazing one I watched took place in the region of the Dead Sea. At the top of the cliffs, an orange-red torrent fell from level to level down the cliff, creating three instant waterfalls until it thundered to the bottom sending a cloud of dry dust into the air and finally filling the desert floor with a shallow pool.

A group of young adults on our Zealous8:2 January tour were in Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in the caves, and witnessed this or something very similar and said that though they were a good distance away, it rumbled loudly. When dry, one can see the stains left behind on the cliff face where these floods have marked their path. Sometimes these floods reach and cross the only road everyone travels alongside the Dead Sea.

Of course, the desert doesn’t see water very often, so many people have taken to driving there at flash flood time just to drive their 4x4s through the water. Viewing the floods has become such an exciting phenomenon that the Society for Protection of Nature actually sponsors hikes for that purpose, which isn’t a bad idea. If you were in the wrong place at the wrong time, it could be dangerous, so you want to go with an authority that knows the safe vantage points.

Snow Covers the Streets

Photo by Eddelene Marais
In January, Israel’s only ski resort on Mount Hermon was shut down because of a blizzard! Being from the mountain state of Colorado in the US, it’s hard for me to imagine a real blizzard in Israel, but the storm brought winds of up to 65 mph, uprooted trees, and even delayed flights at Ben Gurion.

But it wasn’t just the grand heights that enjoyed the rare white flaky stuff. There was snow in other parts of Israel as well, as far south as Jerusalem and surrounding region—for the first time in four years. It was only a few inches and mostly slush, but to those who rarely experience it, it was sufficient enough to have snowball fights in neighborhood streets.

www.savethekinneret.com To conclude, in March, Isranet reported, “There is cautious optimism that the water level of the lake [Sea of Galilee] will never be allowed to reach the danger levels of the past four years. This is because less fresh water will be taken from the Kinneret [Hebrew name for the lake] in future years due to the rapid increase in the desalination of sea water.”

Ashkelon Desalination Plant
There are now four plants running with a fifth in Ashdod to be completed by 2013. The Ashkelon plant—the largest in the world—has run so well that it received the notable award of “Desalination Plant of the Year” this year. The one plant produces around 13% of Israel’s domestic needs and at some of the lowest prices when compared with others in the world. Thus, Israel is not only solving its own problems but becoming a world leader in the process, so even if drought visits the Land again, Israel will be much better prepared to handle it and maybe even export water to other countries.

The Upper Red Line is the full line, which hasn’t happened since March 2004, according to Isranet. When the Lower Red Line is reached, authorities say no more water should be drawn from the sea. If the water level hits the Black Line, it becomes dangerous to run the pumps and they’re shut down, which last happened on November 29, 2001.

Source: By Charleeda Sprinkle, Assistant Editor

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