Kinneret Rising as Snow, Rain Keep Falling

March 1, 2012  

Lake Kinneret (the Sea of Galilee)’s waters are rising as the snow and rain are continuing to fall, bringing desperately-needed water to Israel’s parched land.

The water level of the lake earlier Thursday was at 212.39 meters below sea level, having risen by seven centimeters from the current storm, according to Israel’s Water Authority.

The mark falls between the upper and lower “red lines” – 208.9 meters and 213.18 meters below sea level respectively, at which it is recommended not to pump water from the lake.

At present, Israel still needs another three and a half meters of water to fill the lake before it is necessary to open the Degania Dam and allow the water to flow into the Jordan River, and down to the Dead Sea.

Due to the past seven years of drought, experts say it is still highly unlikely the water level will reach even the upper red line before the end of this winter. Two years ago, the drought brought the level of the lake perilously close to the “black line” – 214.87 meters below sea level – the mark at which water cannot be pumped from the lake without causing severe ecological damage to the water supply.

Nevertheless, thus far rain is continuing to fall, and forecasters predict a cold, wet weekend ahead.

High winds of up to 120 kilometers per hour and sheets of rain ripped up trees and tore down power lines along the coastal region Thursday.

Air traffic was disrupted for a time at Ben Gurion International Airport, and slowed to a crawl along major highways as visibility dropped to near zero.

Roads in a number of areas were closed due to flooding and downed power lines.

Schools in the Golan Heights were also closed after more than nine inches of fluffy white flakes came flying down from the sky. A mix of light snow, sleet and rain dropped in Jerusalem, and also in Judea and Samaria.

For the first time in more than 10 years, the snow on Mount Hermon measured at nearly six feet deep – but in the Galilee mountaintop city of Tzfat (Safed), just a few flakes and a burst of hail fell.

Forecasters say the storm is likely to continue on Friday, but may taper off by the start of the Sabbath.

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