Record rains hit North, but Kinneret still low

Lake remains 11 cm. below "bottom red line" despite significant increase.

Kinneret at sunset 311 (photo credit: Joe Yudin)
Kinneret at sunset 311
(photo credit: Joe Yudin)
While the country’s North was swamped with rains this January – one of the rainiest in recent years – Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee) still sits a hefty 11 centimeters below the basin’s bottom red line.
“It was quite a rainy January, especially in the North – we got more rain in the North than in the average year,” said Water Authority spokesman Uri Schor.
Israel Meteorological Service chart showing Kinneret water levels from 2004-2012.Israel Meteorological Service chart showing Kinneret water levels from 2004-2012.
He noted, however, that the Center and South received less than average rainfall.
Many places throughout the North received 26 or more days of rain, reaching up to 29 days in a few stations. The previous record was 25 days in January 1947.
A number of stations also had a continuous, 27-day stretch of rain from January 5-31, which surpasses the previously established record of 23 days in February-March 1987, according to Israel Meteorological Service (IMS) data.
The Kinneret rose 50 centimeters during the month of January – clocking in at 213.105 meters below sea level on Wednesday morning – while the January average rise is usually only about 35 centimeters, according to Schor.
However, this December’s levels only saw a rise of 3 centimeters, when the typical December rise is about 17 centimeters.
January’s large increase, therefore, simply makes up for the lack in December, he explained.
“After the seven drought years we’ve had, the lack of water is so huge that we need much, much, much more to cover even part of that,” Schor said. “We are happy with January, but we can’t be satisfied from it.”
It is not possible to determine whether this will also be considered a drought year until the end of the rainy season. However, two-thirds of winter has already elapsed, and 4.31 meters is still missing from the Kinneret’s basin, according to Schor. The average winter Kinneret rise is about 1.6 meters, and thus far, the 2011-2012 winter season has seen only a rise of centimeters.
“It’s not a good situation,” Schor said.
Among areas monitored by the IMS, the highest level of January rain in Israel fell in Rosh Hanikra (316 millimeters, 218% of the area’s average), Eilon (389 millimeters, 194% of average), Mitzpe Harashim (406 millimeters, 171% of average), Merom Golan (321 millimeters, 160% of average) and Kfar Giladi (320 millimeters, 156% of average).
Jerusalem received 100% of its typical rain, at 124 millimeters, according to the IMS.
Meanwhile, in the country’s mountainous areas, the November 2011 through January 2012 winter period has been the coldest since the 1994- 1995 season, according to Dr. Amos Porat, head of the IMS Climatology Branch. However, other non-mountainous areas have experienced winters that were as cold as the present one, such as the 2001-2002 and 2007-2008 seasons, he added.