Freak summer rains flood Israel’s south

Israel awoke to the second consecutive unseasonably cool day Wednesday, with rare June rains causing flooding in Sderot and Ashkelon.


The Israel Meteorological Service (IMS) said that heavy rains had drenched nearly every area of the country, with 36 millimeters falling in Ashkelon, 40 millimeters at Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, located near the top of the Gaza Strip, and 49 millimeters at Kibbutz Dorot, near Sderot.

The IMS said that Israel’s average monthly rainfall during June is zero. The last time the country experienced significant June rainfall was in 1992, Israel’s wettest year in the last 90 years. Seventy-five percent of the country’s annual rainfall occurs between December and February, with the remaining 25 percent falling beginning in October and continuing to April.

In the coastal region, some 50 percent of the precipitation accumulates before December 31, while in the Jerusalem area this percentage is only achieved towards the end of January.

Roughly 70 percent of the rain returns to the atmosphere directly from the ground or by evaporation, about 5 percent flows through the rivers, and 25 percent seeps into the groundwater.

Despite the summer rain, Israel continues to wallow in the fifth consecutive year of a punishing drought, with the Sea of Galilee level, the country’s largest source of freshwater, currently standing at –213.50 below sea level, or 4.69 meters lower than the upper red line, which indicates that the lake is full.

The current level is just 0.49 meters above the bottom red line, below which scientists say would cause irreparable ecological damage to the lake, and 1.38 meters higher than the lowest water level ever measured and the point at which the water level drops below the pumps, making continued use of the water impossible.