Israel will enjoy average rainfall this winter, according to the Israel Meteorological Service, and there is a good chance that the dam at the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) will have to be opened up before summer because of the increasing use of desalinated water from the Mediterranean Sea.
The Meteorological Service said its annual winter forecast has a margin of error of up to 25 percent but generally does not miss the mark more than 10 percent in either direction.
The sea has replaced the Kinneret as Israel’s largest source of water, not including the underground aquifer system that is being replenished thanks to the use of more desalinated water.
The Kinneret rose approximately 2.5 meters (8 feet) last winter, which brought average or slightly more than average rainfall in most regions.
As of Monday morning, the Kinneret was exactly 2.5 meters below the level at which the dams would have to be opened to prevent flooding in the beachside city of Tiberias and neighboring farms and tourist parks. If the forecast turns out to be accurate, the Kinneret will rise to near flood level this year.
Opening the dams would dump more water into the Jordan River, which feeds the Dead Sea that is in desperate need of more water.
In Israel, the prayer that cites God as the “rainmaker” began on Shemini Azereth-Simchat Torah, the day after Sukkot. The actually request for rain began two weeks ago, on the seventh day of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan in Israel. The prayer is not said until December 4 outside of Israel.
If rain does not fall within 30 days of the request, special prayers and fast days are held. From a climactic standpoint, Israel received its first rains a month ago during the Sukkot holiday, when a measurable amount of rain, although only 1 millimeter, was recorded in most of the country.
Most of the rain and snow in Israel usually falls in the months of December, January and February.