Sea of Galilee sloshes yet higher, snowmelt may add dozens more centimeters

Over the past week 100 million tons of water poured into Israel’s largest freshwater source

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A man swims in the Sea of Galilee, Feb 2012. (photo credit: Yaakov Nahumi/Flash90)
A man swims in the Sea of Galilee, Feb 2012. (photo credit: Yaakov Nahumi/Flash90)

The relentless heavy rain that poured down on Israel since the weekend added 69 centimeters to the level of the Sea of Galilee — with a rise of 14 centimeters in the last 24 hours alone, the Israel Water Authority said on Thursday.

Amir Givati, Director of Surface Water at the Hydrological Service of the Water Authority, told The Times of Israel that the rainstorm has added an estimated 100 million cubic meters of water to the lake.

The Sea of Galilee, also known as the Kinneret, is Israel’s largest source of fresh water.

Though the rains are expected to abate later Thursday, Givati said the lake would continue to rise as melting snow from the north fed into the reservoir.

Givati estimated the Sea of Galilee would take in millions more tons of water, raising it by dozens of centimeters over the next several days.

Parts of the Golan Heights and the Galilee received over a meter of snow in the last several days as Israel’s heaviest winter storm in decades blew through.

On Wednesday, the lake’s level went up by 16 centimeters.

The enormous amount represents about a third of the average for an entire year, Givati said, and added that annual rain adds about 320 million cubic meters of water to the lake, pushing up the level by around 1.5 meters.

Despite the bountiful rain so far, the Sea of Galilee’s level is still 2.40 meters below the high-water mark — 208.9 meters below sea level — the point at which Degania Dam is opened to allow an increased flow into the Jordan River and prevent the lake from flooding the city of Tiberias and other towns along its coast.

Last month, the water level rose by its highest amount for a December since 1994.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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