Dust storms, torrential rain, snow — and a bit of sunshine, too – are in the mix this week in Israel as January brings unusually wet, cold weather.
The storms, along with colder temperatures in mid-week, are forecast for the entire region stretching from Turkey through Israel to Jordan.
Flash flooding is a major hazard in some areas, particularly in the North. Two cars were swept into a Lower Galilee river on Monday; all passengers were rescued safely. Meanwhile, dust rolling in from the Sahara made for poor visibility in other parts of Israel.
But on the positive side, on January 9 up to 1.5 inches of snow fell in northern Israel. That was reason for great rejoicing at the seasonal ski site at Mount Hermon, on the Lebanese border.
Throngs of Israelis braved traffic jams to reach the Hermon on the weekend to ski, snowboard, sled and just enjoy the white powdery stuff, which is not a guarantee in any given winter.
And the really good news is that the winter rains so far have added about 32 centimeters (12.5 inches) of much-needed water to the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kinneret), Israel’s major freshwater reservoir.
According to the website SaveTheKinneret, “many years of below-average rainfall have led the water level to dip to the ‘black line,’ [214.4 meters below sea level] beyond which water cannot be pumped without causing severe damage to the entire water supply.” As of January 14, the level of the Kinneret was 214.12 meters below sea level.