Tu Bishvat is here, rain isn't

Not only this year's lack of rain, but also the recent cold wave has significantly damaged crops in some areas.

eucalyptus tree 88  (photo credit: )
eucalyptus tree 88
(photo credit: )
Tu Bishvat arrives on Monday night as the country is experiencing an unusually dry winter. "It's a pretty grim year, with some parts of the country as low as 40 percent of normal" rainfall for this time of year, said Zvi Zemel of the Israel Meteorological Service (IMS). Zemel also said that not only this year's lack of rain but also the recent cold wave had significantly damaged crops in some areas. Amos Porat, also of the IMS, said that while last year was considered a dry one, this year was even worse. He said that southern Israel was currently at 40-50% of its annual normal rainfall for this time of year; the Jerusalem and central areas at around 55%, and the coastal plain at around 75%. However, Porat said, the worst situation was in the Sea of Galilee region, the main source of water for both drinking and irrigation. The area has seen 60-65% of its normal rainfall for the year. Data provided by the IMS showed that Jerusalem has reported only 138 mm of rainfall since August 2007, out of an annual norm of 554 mm. In the South, Beersheba has reported only 39 mm since August out of an annual 206 mm, and in the North - at Zemach along the Sea of Galilee - only 111 mm for the same period out of an average annual 408 mm. According to the Water Authority, the current level of the Sea of Galilee is 212.53 meters below sea level. That's 3.73 meters below the maximum limit of -208.8 meters, and dangerously close to the low "red line" of -213 meters. One of the Sea of Galilee's main water sources is runoff from melting snow on Mount Hermon. However, according to the Mount Hermon Web site, all ski trails are currently closed and there is currently no snow on the mountain below 2040 meters. One worker there said the site might reopen "maybe in two weeks time, maybe."