First Snow of the Winter

The first snow of the winter dumped up to two feet of the white stuff on the upper slopes of the Hermon. Flood warnings were posted in the south.

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu , | updated: 14:46

Snowfall on the Hermon as of Monday afternoon
Snowfall on the Hermon as of Monday afternoon
Israel news photo: Hermon ski site

Another mid-winter storm brought badly-needed rain to Israel Sunday night and Monday and has dumped up to two feet of snow on the upper slopes of Mt. Hermon. More than a foot has fallen on the lower slopes, and authorities plan to open the site to visitors Tuesday morning for the first time this year, though at this point, there is not enough snow for skiing.

Flood warnings are posted in the south, but the storm is not expected to offer a repeat performance of last week’s startling and deadly floods - two people were killed - that raged as far south as Eilat in the worst flooding in more than a decade.

Video of flash floods:

The latest rains have brought some relief to the country’s water supply, although Israel’s water resources still are seriously depleted. The Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) has risen to more than a meter (40 inches) above the black line, the level at which withdrawing more water could cause health and environmental damage. However, it would take several more major storms to raise the lake by another five metres (more than 16 feet) to its flood level.

The Haifa and central Negev areas have already received 100 percent of their average annual rainfall, and more than 80 percent of the normal amount of precipitation for the entire season has fallen in most areas in the Galilee, the Kinneret and the Golan Heights. In Jerusalem, less than half of the annual amount has fallen, while Tel Aviv has received slightly more than two-thirds of the usual rainfall for the year.

The rain is expected to slacken off Monday afternoon and evening, but temperatures will dive to slightly above freezing in Jerusalem and on the higher hills of Judea and Samaria. Gale force winds whipped through the southern Hevron Hills, and weather radar maps indicate rain will fall south of Be’er Sheva.

The unusually cold weather will continue through Tuesday, and significantly warmer weather will be felt from Thursday through Sunday. The long-range outlook calls for more rain towards the middle or end of next week, possibly accompanied by snow.