Farmers suffer up to NIS 50m. in damages from storm

Much of the damage caused to the citrus and avocado trees, as well as to other crops, was the result of the heavy winds striking towns all over Israel.

By
January 11, 2015 19:56
farmer with grapes

farmer with grapes . (photo credit: courtesy)

While Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) reaped the benefits of the past week’s inclement weather, the country’s farmers may have suffered up to NIS 50 million in damage from the incessant storms.

After receiving about 600 damage reports from the country’s growers over the past week, Kanat – Insurance Fund for Natural Risks in Agriculture estimated that the violent winds and rain caused about NIS 50m.

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in damage. Among the most heavily impacted were citrus and avocado trees, particularly those located in central Israel, according to Kanat.

“This is only an initial evaluation and the exact extent of the damage will be clear in the coming days,” said Kanat CEO David Ginzburg.

Much of the damage caused to the citrus and avocado trees, as well as to other crops, was the result of the heavy winds striking towns all over Israel, Kanat said. Additional damage due to greenhouse coverings tearing and subsequent flooding of crops within, the information continued.

Other particular crops particularly affected include bananas, greenhouse tomatoes, and various flowers and leafy crops like parsley, coriander, and basil. Field crops like potatoes and onions also suffered from heavy hail in the South and Center of the country, Kanat data said.

In the North, the Galilee Development Company estimated that farmers lost hundreds of thousands of shekels in damage due to the storm. Particularly overnight between Friday and Saturday, crops suffered frostbite due to an over nine-hour stretch in which temperatures were below freezing, the company said.

The most significant damage in this region occurred to about 10 hectares of potato plots in the Shamir, Amir, Sde Nehemia, Misgav Am, and Kfar Szold kibbutzim.

There, economic damage was estimated from about NIS 400,000-500,000, the company said. Even more resistant crops, like peas and broccoli, suffered during the extreme cold, which persisted overnight between Saturday and Sunday.

In addition to damage caused to the agricultural sector, the week’s storm also took a heavy toll on the country’s building infrastructure.

The Renovation Contractors Union in Israel estimated that a total of NIS 25m. worth of renovations would be necessary as a result of the storm.

Dozens of solar water heaters collapsed due to the storm, while hundreds of solar panels were broken as objects flew through the air, the union said. Advertisement billboards that were not properly secured were also brought down by the heavy rain and winds, and plumbing systems also required repairs.

Eran Siv, chairman of the Renovation Contractors Union in Israel, said that the water heaters that fell mostly did so due to improper maintenance and unstable installations.

The dozens of water heaters that collapsed caused great damage to apartment buildings.

Compared to their behavior during last year’s storm, however, local councils improved by pruning trees in advance, preventing tree branch breakage that caused considerable damage previously, according to the union. In addition, many residents were able to avoid damage by sealing roofs and walls prior to the storm, the union added.

While storm conditions battered much of the country throughout the past week, the water level of Lake Kinneret rose 11 centimeters since the beginning of rainfall last Saturday, January 3, the Water Authority said. On Sunday morning, the basin sat at 212.73 meters below sea level, rising 2.5 centimeters in the previous day alone, the authority reported. Between 30 and 50 millimeters of rain fell overnight Saturday in the North and in the Center, the authority.

In terms of rainfall, Water Authority officials considered the past several stormy days a “very good week,” Dr.

Amir Givati, head of the surface water department at the authority’s Hydrological Services, told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.

“We expected 10 centimeters, and we got 11 centimeters,” Givati said.

Throughout the entire stormy week, the most precipitation fell along the coastal plain, where 100-150 millimeters of water accumulated from January 6 through 11, according to the Israel Meteorological Service. In the mountains of the North and Center and valleys of the North, between 80-170 millimeters fell, while the Lake Kinneret region received 60-90 millimeters and the northern and central Negev got 20-30 millimeters.

Looking at typically quantities of rain for early January, in most regions the values either closely meet or exceed the averages for the time period, the IMS said.

As far as snow is concerned, especially large amounts fell on the northern mountains during this wintry episode.

On Mount Hermon and in the northern Golan Heights, snow fell intermittently for four days in a row, from the night between January 6-7 until the night between January 10-11, the IMS said. In the northern Golan, about half a meter to a meter of snow fell, while the Upper Galilee received 30-40 centimeters, the IMS reported.

On January 9, snow even fell in lower spots in the northwest of the country, such as Nahariya, Pardes Hanna, and the Carmel neighborhoods around Haifa. The next day, snow fell on relatively low spots in the northeast of the country, such as Metulla, Kfar Giladi, and the Hula Valley, the IMS said.

Snow has accumulated on the ground around the Hula only about four or five times since the early 1940s, the last time occurring in 1992, the IMS reported.

While snow blanketed the North throughout the week, the amounts were much smaller in the central mountains, according to the IMS. On January 7, about 10 centimeters of snow fell on the peaks of Samaria and Gush Etzion, while 5 centimeters coated Jerusalem. This snow melted the next day, but resumed on January 9 in the afternoon – with 10-15 centimeters accumulating in Gush Etzion and another 5 centimeters in Jerusalem, the IMS said.

Snow also brushed areas in the South of the country on January 9, with some accumulation in the Negev highland.

Clear – and warmer – conditions are expected to remain for the next few days, until rain and lower temperatures are expected to return on Thursday, the IMS forecast.


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