Israel seeing driest winter in almost 60 years, scientists say
'I’m not using the word ‘drought,’ because it’s something the government decides and it has economic implications, but we know what we’re talking about'
This winter season has been Israel’s driest in almost 60 years, amid a dramatic decrease of rainfall compared to last year, according to Thursday reports of data by the Israel Meteorological Service.
The Sea of Galilee, Israel’s largest freshwater lake, is considered a popular gauge of seasonal rainfall. According to its findings, the rainfall from December 2022 to January 2023 raised the water level of the northern lake by just 0.8 inches so far, down significantly from the same period in recent years.
An average Israeli winter that runs from December to March yields an increase of about 3.2 feet in the Sea’s water levels.
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Israeli water authorities said the long periods between rainfalls during this winter have led to slower flows from teams and run-offs from hills in northern regions, thus limiting the amount by which the water levels could rise.
Eyal Wiesel, a director at the hydrological service of the government’s Government Water and Sewage Authority, told Haaretz that 0.8 was the smallest rise since 1964 when the Jewish state began measuring rainfall.
This winter season, the Sea of Galilee water levels “started to rise only on January 12” – the latest stage in the winter since 1964 when water levels began to rise, said Weisel.
Dr. Amos Porat, the director of the climate division of the Israel Meteorological Service, warned that it looked like “we are marching towards a year with little rain.
“I’m not using the word ‘drought,’ because it’s something the government decides and it has economic implications, but we know what we’re talking about,” he said.