Heavy Rain Ends Drought in Israel

Israel has received heavy rainfall during the past few weeks, ending a drought that has plagued the north of the country for five years. But it has not ended the whole country’s water problems.

Over just two days enough rain fell to raise the level of the Sea of Galilee by almost 20 centimetres. Streams in the north of Israel have swollen to levels not experienced since 2013.

Both the Galilee region and the Golan Heights received between 120 and 150 millimetres of rain recently. In December rainfall broke a 30-year record with large quantities throughout Israel. The north and centre of the country have now reached between 60 and 80 percent of the typical annual total for the rainy season.

This brings welcome relief from the drought which reached its peak last summer – said to be the worst drought in the region in almost 100 years.

Israel’s southern region is still experiencing drought conditions, but they are not without hope as there are some weeks of the rainy season still to come.

In December a meteorologist described the rainfall as “extreme and rare.” It caused major flooding and resulted in two people losing their lives. In Rehovot, southeast of Tel Aviv, 200 millimetres  of rain fell, a very rare occurrence.

The storm that brought January’s heavy rain to Israel also hit parts of Lebanon very hard, causing major problems in refugee camps. Storm Norma brought heavy rain, snow and freezing temperatures, leaving as many as 66 camps with flooding problems. Some of the worst affected were camps in region around the town of Arsal, 124 kilometres northeast of Beirut.

One refugee agency in the area tweeted on 9th January that 70,000 refugees are at risk.


And More Rain ...

On Monday 14th January more heavy rainfall was reported that resulted in serious flooding in parts of the north of Israel. Two drivers became trapped in their cars by floodwater and needed to be rescued by the emergency services.

A screenshot from a video of one rescueScreen shot of video showing one rescue.

Whilst Israelis have longed for an end to the drought, it seems that the much-needed rainfall is coming too quickly for comfort. More stormy weather is forecast and the ground is already saturated, so flooding occurs even more quickly now.


First published on 10th January, this article was updated on 15th January.