Rain in Jerusalem, March 9, 2014..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Nearly a week of intermittent rainstorms drenched Israeli fields and put a damper on some pre-Purim celebrations for Friday.
The rains began to pour across the country on Saturday, after nearly three months of winter that were among the driest in history in many places. It is expected to clear up by Saturday morning.
Dr. Amos Porat, head of the Israel Meteorological Services climatology department, explained that both the heavy rainfall and the cold air this week were the result of mid-latitude depressions from the central Mediterranean Sea. While such conditions are relatively normal during wintertime in the region, Israel has not experienced such conditions this year since mid-December, he said.
Overall, many areas received large amounts of rainfall this week, with some accumulating more than 100 mm. of water, Porat said.
The weather stations at Gamla and Rosh Tzurim recorded the largest amounts of rain from Saturday through Thursday afternoon, with 102 mm.
and 104 mm. respectively, according to IMS data. Due to the dry conditions that have characterized the season thus far, these two areas have to date only received 55 percent and 73% of their annual seasonal averages, the data said.
Haifa saw 28 mm. of rainfall this week and 276 mm. since September, representing 51% of the city’s annual seasonal average.
About 71 mm. accumulated in Tel Aviv this week out of a total 367 mm. this season, which amounts to 63% of the city’s annual seasonal average.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem experienced 80 mm. of rain this week and 374 mm. total since September, 70% of its annual seasonal average.
The only areas to come close to or exceed their annual seasonal averages thus far are in the South – with Negba accumulating 99% of its average, Beersheba 99% and Eilat 118%, according to the IMS data.
Negba received 71 mm. this week, Beersheba 48 mm. and Eilat 11 mm.
As of Thursday morning, the water level of Lake Kinneret was 211.07 meters below sea level, the Water Authority said.
Because rains were due to continue on Friday, officials in some municipalities canceled outdoor pre-Purim events scheduled to take place that day. Mevaseret Zion canceled its children’s Purim parade for Friday in anticipation of ongoing inclement conditions.
The annual Tel Aviv Purim Street Party, scheduled to begin at 12 p.m. on Friday in Hamedina Square, was postponed a week to next Friday, and now bears the name “After Purim” Street Party. As of Thursday evening, however, the Haifa Municipality had yet to cancel its Friday outdoor Purim celebration, scheduled to take place as planned at 12 p.m. in Gan Ha’am.
The IMS’s forecasts for Sunday indicated that the major Purim parades would experience partly cloudy but significantly warmer conditions.
While the weather conditions this week were due to meteorological depressions, so too were the unseasonably warm and hazy conditions that persisted last week, Porat explained.
These conditions, however, were caused by a different type of depression – one that begins in Africa and brings warm air from the desert, along with haze and sand storms, north – known in Hebrew as a “sharav,” he said.
March can be a particularly interesting month because sometimes, as has occurred this year, both types of depressions can occur in it, Porat noted.
Traffic fatalities in the first two months of 2014 were 40% lower than those in the first two months of 2013, a decrease that the National Road Safety Authority attributed to the relative dryness that has afflicted Israel during this season. While there were 55 traffic fatalities in January and February 2013, there were 33 during these months in 2014.
But National Road Safety Authority officials stressed it was now crucial to begin proper driving training for stormy conditions, rather than “waiting for proof.”
“Driving correctly in inclement weather only helps road safety,” a statement from the authority said.