In one of the few pieces of good news to come out of the unprecedented storm that washed over Israel this past weekend, the country’s largest source of freshwater rose 10 centimeters since last Wednesday, the Israel Water Authority reported Sunday.
The Sea of Galilee’s water level now stands at 211.3 meters below sea level, about 2.5 meters shy of the level at which the sluices would be opened to let water run down into the Jordan River and thus prevent flooding in Tiberias. Water levels are expected rise further in the coming days due to melting snow in the Golan Heights and the Upper Galilee.
Prior to the storm, the country had been experiencing one of the driest winters in decades, but thanks to rains from the previous winter the waters of the Sea of Galilee were still about a meter higher than at the same time last year, according to figures released by the Israel Meteorological Service on December 1.
Israel uses about 2 billion cubic meters of water a year, of which 600 million cubic meters come from desalination and a further 400 million are recycled waste water used in agriculture. The rest comes from annual rainfall that rushes through rivers and streams into the Sea of Galilee and seeps into the coastal and mountain aquifers. In accordance with various agreements, Israel also provides 100 million cubic meters of water to the Palestinian Authority and a further 70 million cubic meters to Jordan.
The weekend storm, deemed a “once-in-a-century” phenomenon by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, dropped 40-60 centimeters of snow in Jerusalem and between 60 centimeters and one meter of snow in the Golan, closing roads and crippling public transportation in parts of the country. Road 1 from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem only opened Sunday afternoon, while the capital’s light rail was still out of service and authorities were still advising residents against driving on the city’s icy roads.
Four people died over the weekend due to weather-related incidents.