Israelis from the Center to the North took refuge from thundering winds and
torrential rains throughout the weekend, which proved to be the most powerful
episode of December precipitation for Lake Kinneret in the past 20
“It was a very good December – it was the best December in the
past 20 years,” Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor told The Jerusalem Post on
Sunday. “But it’s still December. It’s the beginning of the winter, and we hope
it will continue.”
By Sunday morning, the water level of Lake Kinneret
was 212.02 meters below sea level, representing a rise of 23 cm. in just one
weekend and leaving the basin only 3.22 m. short of being filled to capacity,
according to data from the Water Authority’s Hydrological Services. The
last time that “such a sharp rise of 23 cm.” occurred in one rainy
December episode was in 1992.
Thus far this month, the water level has
risen a total of 38 cm., and from the beginning of the rainy season – October 29
– it has risen 41 cm., the data said. For the sake of comparison, last year the
Kinneret’s water level remained stable until December 27, when it began
During this weekend’s rainy period, despite the fact that the
country’s Center did receive some storms, the brunt of the precipitation hit the North, Israel Meteorological Services (IMS)
reported. On Wednesday night and through the day Thursday, rain fell
predominantly in the North and did not begin significantly in the Center until
Thursday evening. Throughout the day on Friday, the North and Center received
heavy rains, while the South received almost nothing. During Saturday, the rains
Looking at the cumulative amount of rain since the beginning of
the season through today, the amount of precipitation has considerably exceeded
the average for the period, giving the North “one of the best starts to the
rainy season,” IMS said.
In the past 70 years, there have only been two
or three other cases in which the rainy season began this strong, the
Over the weekend, the Western Galilee received
more than 200 mm.
of water, while the rest of the Galilee and Golan
Heights received between 100 and 160 mm., according to the IMS data. The
northern coastal plain received between 90 and 140 mm., while the Hula Valley
got 70 to 90 mm. In the Kinneret region, the Jezreel Valley, the southern
coastal plain and the country’s Center, residents received between 40 and 80 mm.
of rain. From the Judean mountains and southward into the Negev, no rain fell at
Particularly in the North, the weekend’s rains provided large
amounts of much-needed water, even causing “abnormal flows in the streams of the
western Galilee and in the Kinneret basin,” the Water Authority said. Flows were
particularly strong in the Betzet, Kaziv, Yasaf, Beit Ha’emek and Ga’aton
streams. In Ga’aton, there was a flow of 13 cubic meters per second – a flow
rate that happens there only on average once every 25 years in December – while
Beit Ha’emek presented an even higher flow rate, at 30 cubic meters per second.
The streams and rivers of the Hof Hacarmel region also experienced strong flow
rates, but the values were not as exceptional as those found in the western
In the Kinneret drainage basin, on Friday there were rare flow
rates of 59 cubic meters per second at Snir Stream, 31 cubic meters per second
at the Hermon, 102 cubic meters per second at the Jordan River’s Sde Nehemia
station and about 130 cubic meters per second at the Jordan River’s Hapkak
“The flow rate is so high in the Jordan River during this
period of the year that it has not been measured this high since December 1951,”
a statement from the Water Authority said.
The highest known peak flows
in the Jordan River for any month of the year have been 280 cubic meters per
second at Sde Nehemia on December 18, 1951, and 214 cubic meters per second at
Hapkak Bridge on January 23, 1969.
During the weekend’s precipitation,
some streams in the southern portion of the Golan Heights also began flowing for
the first time this season, with the Samach Stream getting 5 cubic meters per
second and Sfamnun Stream near the Kinneret receiving 2.5 cubic meters per
second. In the center of the Golan Heights, flow rates were higher, with the
Yehudiya and Hexagon streams receiving 80 cubic meters per second – both a
one-in-seven chance of occurring during this period of the year.
the rains are encouraging to experts, they stress that there is no way to
predict what will occur in the coming months.
“We cannot conclude
anything from just one season of abundant rainfall,” Dr. Amos Porat, director of
the Climate Department at the Israel Meteorological Service, told the
“It is typical of the climate in this area that there is a large
variability of rainfall amounts from year to year.”
In fact, if anything,
rainfall amounts in the period of January to March are much likelier to be
“close to normal,” according to the long-term forecast of the European Center
for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, Porat explained.
“What occurred so
far is excellent, hopefully it will continue like that,” added Prof. Eilon Adar,
director of Ben-Gurion University’s Zuckerberg Institute for Water
While Adar too stressed that it is difficult to predict what
will come, if the rains do continue as they have begun, he said he would look
forward to the country being able to pump less and save more.
the best sort of water-saving account that we could have,” Adar
After a series of seven drought years, Schor said that the Water
Authority is hoping that this will continue to be a productive winter. However,
he noted, it is crucial for Israel’s public “to continue consumption in the
right manner and prevent waste.”
“That’s true always,” he said.