Category Archives: Climate

Dust Storms in Israel (Hamsin, Sirocco, Sharav)

For recent followers – an “oldie but goodie!” — since Israel has been experiencing sharav conditions recently.

In the lands the southeastern end of the Mediterranean Sea the period from early–May to mid–June is a transitional season from the wet winter months to the dry summer ones. At times the wind blows in from the desert (from the east), and not from the Mediterranean Sea (from the west—which is normal). At those times the humidity drops drastically and a fine dust that permeates everything fills the air. These dry dusty events are called a hamsin, a sirocco, or a sharav.

Jerusalem — Hamsin/Dust Storm — 10:30 AM 11 May 2007

Under these conditions the green grass rapidly turns brown and the wild flowers die.

“The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.
The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah 40:7–8 (NIV)

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Drinking Water 8 Months Old?

In both ancient and modern times water was a precious commodity in the Middle East.  Villages and cities were built near springs where possible, but in other cases wells were dug AND, from about 1200 B.C. to the present day, plastered cisterns collected the precious rainwater during the winter months.

Ancient Cistern at Ashqelon

Cisterns are cavities that are hewn out of the rock, or soil, and are lined with plaster so as to be able to store water.  In the Middle East, the runoff from the winter rains filled them, and the stored water was used throughout the year.

In the cistern from Ashqelon, note the remnant of the small opening at the top, through which a container was lowered into the cistern to draw water.

Opening of a Cistern

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Avdat Waterfall with Water

This is the last post on “water in the wadis.”  On 10 January we were at En Avdat and the nature walk was closed but the upper viewing area was open.  The following photo was taken on that day — a day after the rain had stopped.  Be sure to see the video link from 2010 at the end of this post!

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Upper “Waterfall” at En Avdat on 10 January 2013
Note the brush on the right side indicating that in the days before the water had been higher!

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A Serious “Gusher” in January 2010

Click Here to view the video – that begins about 1:13.
HT: James Monson

More Wadis/Nahals After the Rains

On January 10 we visited Tel Sheva (biblical Beersheba).  Here are some contrasting views of the Nahal Beersheba after 4 days of rain.

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Nahal Beersheba on 10 January 2013 after 4 Days of Rain

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Nahal Beersheba Under “normal” Conditions

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Nahal Sekher South of Beersheba on 10 January 2013

Valley of Elah after the Rains

Jerusalem in the snow has received a lot of press recently, but it is also “fun” to see the wadis/nahals fill up after a rain storm.  On Wednesday 9 January we visited the Valley of Elah, where David fought Goliath (1 Samuel 17), after 3 days of rain.

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Valley of Elah after Three Days of Rain — 9 January 2013

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Valley of Elah under “normal” conditions – March

Weather in Israel and the “Health” of the Kinneret (Sea of Galiee)

All of us who have traveled in Israel and the surrounding countries are well-aware of the importance of the winter rains for the well-being of the inhabitants of the area, local agriculture, and the water supply in general.

If you wish to “keep up” on how the Sea/Lake of Galilee (the Kinneret) is doing a “fun” place to go is the Kinneret Bot where the water levels of the lake are reported frequently (especially when it has been raining).

Blog01In addition, the Israel Meteorological Service maintains a web page (available in Hebrew and English) where current conditions and weather forecasts are available.  In the winter I find myself looking at the home page, the three day forecast, and also at the “Rain Forecast Maps.”  I the summer I tend to look at the “Heat Stress” tab under “Observations” (what is the HS at the Kinneret?  Masada?@#!).

Blog02These two sources may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I have found them interesting and thought some of you might as well.

Methuselah – The Palm Tree

To view an interesting 8 minute video on the Judean Palm Tree that was sprouted from a 2,000 year old date pit found by Yigal Yadin at Masada Click Here.

Yishai Fleisher interviews, on site, Dr. Elaine Solowey, who supervised the sprouting of the pit and the nurturing of the seedling back to life.  Up until “Methuselah” sprouted and grew, the Judean Palm Trees were extinct!  Good content and good pictures!

Modern Palm Trees growing at the oasis of En Gedi on the western shore of the Dead/Salt Sea

Thanks to Dr. John Monson for the “heads up!”