The Kinneret rose by 4.5 cm on Friday morning, reaching just 63.5 cm from the upper red line which marks a full lake, as stormy winter weather continued to affect much of Israel.
The rise in water levels comes after a heavy winter storm impacted much of the country over the past two days, with Jerusalemites enjoying up to 12 cm of snow, Gush Etzion residents receiving up to 22 cm of snow and residents of El Rum in the Golan Heights receiving 55 cm of snow on Wednesday night. As of Thursday, over 100 mm of rain had fallen since Tuesday evening in some areas in northern and central Israel, with further rain expected into the weekend, according to the Israel Meteorological Service.
The past two years have featured above-average rainfall in Israel, with the Israel Hydrological Service announcing last May that the country had, for the first time in 30 years, experienced its second straight year of such rainfall with 24% more recorded.
The Kinneret rose by 3.01 meters in the 2019-2020 rainy season, reaching its highest level since 2004, as high as 208.89 meters below sea level, just 9 cm. below the upper red line.
The Water Authority is preparing for the possibility that it may need to fully open the Deganya Dam for the first time in 25 years as the Kinneret remains high after two years of especially rainy winters.
If the rainfall this winter exceeds 90% of the perennial average, then the dam will need to be opened. The opening of the dam will likely take place around April 2021 if the water level rises high enough.
The dam was opened partially in 2013, but has not been opened fully since 1995. It had been expected to be partially opened at the beginning of May last year in order to prevent flooding, according to the Kinneret Draining Authority. In April, the Water Authority decided to open a canal to divert five billion liters of water from the Kinneret to the southern Jordan River, with the goal of bypassing the Deganya Dam to avoid negatively affecting pumping stations in the area and the financial costs required to open the dam.
On Friday morning, the Mt. Hermon site was impacted by heavy fog with 75 cm snow accumulated at the lower levels of the mountain and over a meter of snow accumulated at the peak. Further snowfall is expected later in the day. The site is currently closed to visitors.
Rain and chilly weather are expected to continue to affect much of Israel on Friday, with the rainfall expected to weaken into the evening, according to the Israel Meteorological Service.
A slight rise in temperatures is expected on Saturday, although temperatures will remain below average, with light rainfall expected in northern and central Israel.