Flash floods closed  Dead Sea highway
Flash floods closed Dead Sea highwayFlash 90

This week's first major winter storm dumped large amounts of rain on all of Israel as far south as the central Negev and added more than one inch to the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). However, that is only a drop in the bucket of the country's depleting water resources.


After four years of less than normal precipitation, the Kinneret is a whopping 18 feet below the level it last reached 15 years ago, when dams had to be opened to prevent flooding in the beachfront city of Tiberias and surrounding farmland and campgrounds. The lake rises between five and seven feet in a normal winter.


The rise in the Kinneret was the first since the end of last winter and comes after the lake's level declined another 1.55 meters (five feet) this past summer.


The storm was exceptional because cloudbursts and thunderstorms drenched desert areas with amounts of rain almost never seen. Two inches of rain fell in Mevuot Yericho, north of Jericho, more than half the amount the Jewish community receives during the entire year. In nearby Argaman, a cloudburst dumped one inch of rain on the farming community, 25 percent of its annual precipitation.


During the storm, at least two mini-tornadoes, without high winds, were sighted and photographed in the southern JordanValley and the southern Hevron Hills.


October rainfall in Be'er Sheva was more than two inches, more than twice the usual amount for this time of year. Ein Gedi at the Dead Sea, where Highway 90 was closed at least twice due to flooding, has received nearly three times its annual average.


The forecast calls for the rain to end Thursday morning, with warmer and drier weather from the afternoon through Monday.


Another winter system is brewing and may bring more rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, primarily in the range of hills from the area of Tzfat in the north to Mitzpe Ramon in the south.