Lake Kinneret rose 67 centimeters during the recent storm, according to Israel Water Authority figures – between a quarter and a third of its annual average.

By Zafrir Rinat and Eli Ashkenazi | Jan.10, 2013

The stormy weather of the past week began to ease on Thursday, with light rain expected Friday mainly on the coastal plain and warmer, rainless days ahead. Heavy snow closed schools in Jerusalem and halted bus service for part of Thursday. Schools will remain closed Friday in Jerusalem, and in some surrounding communities.

The storms felled several trees on Mount Herzl, some of which had been planted by government leaders from Israel and around the world. The World Zionist Federation said it would begin restoration work in the area on Sunday.

The Kinneret rose 67 centimeters during the recent storm, according to figures released Thursday by the Water Authority – between a quarter and a third of its annual average. The surge represents 100 million cubic meters of water, which, according to the Water Authority’s Dr. Amir Givati is “equivalent to the annual output of a desalination plant.”

The Kinneret has risen 1.2 meters so far this winter, and is expected to rise a further 80 centimeters by the end of January. According to Givati, the lake will swell a total of 3 meters this winter. Still, the records of the winter of 1991–1992, when the lake rose by 4.5 meters, and 2002–2003, when it rose by 4 meters, are not expected to be broken.

The lake now lacks 2.3 meters to reach the point of where it floods the lakeside promenade and communities along its shores. But according to Givati, it is not likely this will happen unless something extraordinary occurs, although he said the Water Authority was prepared for any scenario.

The current prodigious rise follows several years when the lake was at an all-time low. Such extreme fluctuations can harm the ecology of the lake, and so the Water Authority is working to stabilize the water level by building desalination facilities whose water will augment the lake’s supply. Dr. Doron Merkel, head of the Water Authority’s Kinneret department says stabilization of the lake’s level is on the way, along with an expected positive effect on the lake’s ecosystems.

The greatest precipitation over the past seven days – 273 millimeters – was measured at the Ramat Menashe station, southwest of Mount Carmel. In second place was Merom Golan with 258 centimeters. Mekorot, the national water company, said it had been able to impound 19 million cubic meters of flood water in its reservoirs.

The Southern Sharon Regional Council and the Yarkon Drainage Authority reported that a reservoir that had been created in an old quarry had taken in more than 3 million cubic meters of water and prevented the surrounding area from flooding.

The stormy weather also bodes well for the Dead Sea, the level of which is declining at an alarming rate. Due to the large quantity of water flowing this winter into the Yarmouk River, which flows through southern Syria and Jordan and into the Jordan River, Syria and Jordan have open some of the Yarmouk’s dams, which brings more water into the Jordan. This water then flows south to the Dead Sea, along with the water from other tributaries along the way, which are also making more than their usual contribution this winter. “This month we apparently won’t be reporting that the level of the Dead Sea has declined,” Givati said.