In mid-December a historic winter storm blanketed Israel with snow and frigid temperatures.
Since then, however, virtually no precipitation has fallen and drought conditions are growing so extreme, according to the Water Authority, that a dry spell like this has never been recorded during this time of year.
Amos Porat, director of the Israel Meterological Service’s Climate Change division, said that the lack of rainfall is due to a weather phenomena called “blocking.” Essentially, he explained, the wet weather from Europe that usually travels through Israel in winter giving the country much-needed rain has been blocked. Instead, it is sticking around in Europe and Israel is remaining dry.
While Port said that it would only be speculation to blame it on climate change this early in the weather pattern, he conceded that the dry weather is likely to remain for a while. “February doesn’t look good either,” he said, noting that, according to his team’s research, it may be a while before Israel sees rain.
So far, life in Israel has changed little due to the unprecedented winter drought, thanks to the availability of desalinated water and water conservation measures already employed by the Water Authority.
“Despite the rare climatic situation in which we find ourselves, the country is not drying up,” a spokesperson from the Water Authority stressed. He added that “the State of Israel is quite different” from other drought-plagued areas like California and Texas were extreme measures have already been employed to save water.
The agricultural sector, however, is already feeling the brunt of the lack of rain. “The shortage in precipitation has caused a reduction in the volume of pasture, and at this stage cattle herders are concentrating their herds in limited plots and serving them food,” Doe Tatami, head of the Israel Farmers Association, said.
Yaren Solomon, of the Farmers Association, also added that these extreme weather events seem to be occurring with greater frequency in Israel, making it harder for Israeli farmers to survive.
“I think that the world is going berserk weather-wise,” Solomon said. “Something is really going wrong with the weather throughout the whole world.”