Lake Kinneret rises slightly over storm, still much room for improvement

Lake's water level stood at 211.81 meters below sea level as of Monday morning.

April 13, 2015 20:27
3 minute read.
Lake Kinneret

Lake Kinneret . (photo credit: JULIE STEIGERWALD)

As the heavy precipitation that battered Israel over the weekend subsided by Monday night, Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) is heading into the summer with a fairly robust water level, but still with much room for improvement in years to come.

The Kinneret water level stood at 211.805 meters below sea level as of Tuesday morning, indicating a 2.5-cm.

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increase from Saturday and a 6-cm. climb since the beginning of Passover, Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

All in all, the basin is missing 3.01 meters from reaching full capacity.

“From the beginning of the winter, the level of the Kinneret has risen by 1.06 meters, including the rise in the last few days,” Schor said. “On average over the years, Lake Kinneret’s level rises by 1.6 meters. So it’s not the best situation.”

Nonetheless, given the drought conditions that have impacted Israel over the past several years, Schor described the lake’s current state as comparatively “wonderful.”

“You always have to compare it to something,” he said, noting that 2014 was the worst drought year in the past 100 years, particularly in the summer.

Lake Kinneret has been able to maintain its moderately high water level due to “the decision of the Water Authority to recover the natural water sources,” according to Schor.

“The Water Authority, during the year, has been pumping minimum [amounts] from Lake Kinneret, in order to help the lake recover, and therefore the level is quite high,” he said.

“You don”t have much rainfall, but the pumping from the lake has been much less than in other years, due to desalination and other means.”

Because more than 50 percent of Israel’s water now comes from man-made resources, such as desalination and sewage recycling, the Water Authority has the possibility to significantly reduce its pumping, Schor explained.

“Still, we lack huge quantities of water, due to the drought years that we had until not long ago,” he said. “We must recover the natural sources in order to [overcome] the future drought years that are due to come.”

While the Kinneret may have benefited from the storms of the past few days by only a few centimeters, Israel Meteorological Service experts described the storms as “an extraordinary event for April.” The wintry storm system not only included heavy rains and record low temperatures but also involved snow on the northern mountain peaks and hail in various places around the country.

More than 100 millimeters of rain fell at some stations in Hof Hacarmel and the Western Galilee from Friday through Sunday afternoon, the IMS said. About 20 centimeters of snow accumulated on Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights, and snow also fell on Mount Meron, the highest peak of the Upper Galilee, according to the IMS.

Other districts in the North received 50-90 millimeters of rain, while 40-70 millimeters drenched the central coastline, the IMS said. The central mountains and northern valleys received about 30-50 millimeters of rain, and 5-10 millimeters fell in the northern Negev.

Heavy hail pounded the areas near Hadera and Pardess Hanna through the northern Samaria region overnight on Sunday, with some residents waking up to hail accumulations Monday morning, the IMS added.

During Sunday’s storm events, the weather was so uncharacteristically frigid that, in the past 65 years, such low temperatures during daytime in April were measured only in 1990 and 1997, the IMS said.

The barrage of hail and heavy rains was so severe that farmers likely incurred tens of millions of shekels worth of damage, Kanat – Insurance Fund for Natural Risks in Agriculture estimated on Sunday. As a result, the Farmers Federation of Israel forecasted hikes in summer fruit prices the next day.

The storm caused considerable damage to thousands of acres of fruit orchards, both in terms of infrastructure and the blossoming fruits themselves, the federation said.

“As if we were not experiencing enough crises, [the] hail damages last night are terrible news to farmers who are already on the verge of collapse and bankruptcy,” federation president Dubi Amitai said on Monday.

Conditions were so poor following the storm that many net houses that protect crops collapsed, while excess water in the soil damaged the roots of many plants, according to the federation.

“Due to the heavy damage, summer fruit prices are expected to increase,” Amitai said.

“The Israeli government must awaken to the sound of our pleas, otherwise agriculture will be eliminated and along with it settlement and national security.”

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