A late, but wet winter shaping up

Friday, January 13, 2006 | 
If the drastic drop in temperatures wasn’t enough, the spraying of puddles as buses and cars sped by said it all to soaked pedestrians: Israel has finally stepped into the throes of winter.

The weather had not committed itself to winter until this past week, wavering between unseasonably warm and dry weeks to mildly cold days through December. But this past week, the Israeli winter was unleashed.

A steady flow of rain in most of the country and snow in the north continued for about a week and the colder temperatures took hold. The Sea of Galilee, Israel’s main reservoir, rose 1 cm. in a 24-hour period. But it has almost a full 9 feet to go to reach the “safe levels.” It stood more than two feet higher at this time last year.

Israel’s climate, while unpredictable from day to day, follows the same annual pattern. Clear skies and searing hot temperatures mark summers, which last roughly from May until late September with nary a drop of rain. Winters are spent making up for the subsequent drop in water supplies. The abundant precipitation rarely turns into snow as most of Israel never gets cold enough.

Weather forecasters predict that an additional 6 inches of rain will drench Israel during the next week. The precipitation might continue longer, and there is a chance that snow might reach Jerusalem by Tuesday, a rare phenomenon. Mount Hermon is expected to receive more than four feet of snow.

Pray that the reservoirs are filled in ample time before the rains cease in April or May for yet another six months. And in the meantime, enjoy the skiing at Mount Hermon!

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