Heavy rains in Eilat damage nature reserve

Flooding hits Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve; IMS predicts wet start to winter, average overall amount of seasonal rainfall.

Floodwater in South 370 (photo credit: Tomer Oferi)
Floodwater in South 370
(photo credit: Tomer Oferi)
The heavy rains that drenched the Eilat mountains and southern Arava region on Sunday night led to the flooding of the Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) said on Monday.
Over the course of the night, park workers evacuated animals that were in danger of drowning, and others worked all night to rebuild fences that had collapsed during the flood.
By Tuesday, the nature reserve will be open as usual to visitors, an INPA statement said.
Despite the damage caused to the nature reserve, the rains brought with them “many blessings” as they watered the acacia trees – which are “a source of life in the desert” – and created a “rare, breathtaking site,” according to the INPA.
“The desert is now beautiful and gleaming, and this is the best time to hike in it and to enjoy the rich and spectacular landscape it has to offer,” said Doron Nissim, the Eilat district manager at the INPA.
Although Eilat will not likely receive such a storm again in the next few days, the Israel Meteorological Service (IMS) did predict isolated rains for the country’s North and along its coastal plain on Monday night, with scattered showers on Tuesday morning.
Wednesday will likely be partly cloudy and overcast, while Thursday and Friday may bring in isolated and scattered showers in the country’s North and Center respectively, according to the IMS.
For the first time, the IMS this winter season will be employing a more detailed seasonal forecast mechanism issued by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), IMS Director Hania Berkowitz explained in a statement.
Unlike former seasonal forecasts of IMS that have been based on statistical calculations, the European forecasting model is based on running a dynamic model of the atmosphere, at a horizontal resolution of 75 kilometers per month and executing the model 51 times under different conditions, Berkowitz explained. The model divides predictions into three categories – dry years, wet years and average years.
Based on the new model, IMS has determined that the cumulative rainfall during this year’s main winter months (December, January and February) will be in the average category. There is a probability of 41 percent that this period will feature average amounts of precipitation, a probability of 28% that it will be a dry period and probability of 31% that it will be a particularly rainy period.
However, the beginning of the season (November through January) will be relatively wet, according to the IMS.
IMS will continue to update its figures monthly, following the ECMWF model, the organization assured.
“It is our duty to reiterate, every year, that the level of accuracy of seasonal forecasts is still relatively low,” Berkowitz said.