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January 26, 2015 / 6 Shevat, 5775
 
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Morid Ha'Geshem

Israel’s Storm: Extreme Rainfalls, More than $250 Mil. in Damages

The Kinneret is expected to rise at a rate of 1 inch per day until the end of the season.
The Tel Aviv coastline during the storm.

The Tel Aviv coastline during the storm.
Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

Last week’s storm in Israel was a record-breaker on many ccounts.

Many areas in the country received between 8-12 inches of rain, which occurs on average every 10-15 years. Rainfalls in the north have accumulated to 80%-95% of the total annual average, and an astonishing 180-230% of the average rainfall for this time of the year.

In central Israel, the rains have reached 70-85% of the yearly average and 150-200% of the average for this time of year.

Even in the Negev Desert, where up until recently the rainfall has been bellow average, the rains have reached 150% of the average for this period. A continuous rainfall period of 6-7 days is not common in the Negev, and over the last 50 years has been recorded only four other times, in 1965, 1969, 1992, and 1995.

The water level of Lake Kinneret continues to rise as a result of heavy precipitation (the Kinneret is Israel’s main source of water). The level rose by 35 inches in the past week, one of the sharpest recorded rises in such a short period of time. The Kinneret’s current level has already surpassed the highest level recorded last winter.

The Kinneret has risen a total of 57 inches since the beginning of the season, and is expected to rise at a rate of 1 inch per day until the end of the season.

Snow has accumulated throughout the Galilee and the Golan in the North, and in Jerusalem and its environs, and even in the northern Negev, during the second half of last week. Such a heavy snow fall occurs every few years, with the last big storm recorded in 2008. Other recent major storms have occurred in 2003, 2000 and 1998.

On Wednesday, Jan. 9, some 25,000 homes lost electricity, due to wreckage caused by extremely strong wind gusts blowing at 63 miles per hour in some places. In Jerusalem, the winds reached 69 miles per hour. The last record for Jerusalem stood at 60 miles per hour, in the year 2000.

Many homes in central Israel were flooded as a result of torrential rains. The Union of Local Authorities in Israel has estimated that the damage caused to the infrastructure by the storm stands at 1 billion NIS, or $267,387,000. The damage caused to the financial sector is estimated at 300 million NIS, or $80,216,100, half of which was lost due to the absence of workers who were unable to get to work because of flooded roads.

About the Author: Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.


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