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After Years of Drought, the Kinneret Overflows

March 12, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Lake Kinneret overflowed its banks Wednesday as gale-force winds sent 3-foot waves breaking across the shoreline promenade and the adjacent highway.

The waves battered cafes and restaurants along the lakeshore and flooded the road leading to Migdal in the north and Kibbutz Ginnosar in the south.

The storm, driven by the Sharkiya, a hot, dry easterly wind, appeared to be the final signature of a long, brutal winter that ravaged much of Israel this year.

It raised the level of Kinneret, Israel’s largest freshwater reservoir, from a record low to a near-record high. That was welcome news for drought-stricken farmers. But it threatened lake-side communities, including the resort town of Tiberias, with dangerous floods.

The water is kept at a safe level by periodically opening the sluice gates at Degania, at the southern end of the lake, where it empties into the Jordan River.

As a further precaution against floods, artificial embankments were prepared consisting of 330-foot sections of water-filled plastic containers placed where the shoreline is most prone to flooding.

They failed their first real test Wednesday, when several of the containers burst under the pounding of the waves.

The Sharkiya subsided around noon Wednesday, but meteorologists forecast a fresh assault at night with a renewed danger of flooding.

Lake Kinneret occupies the same deep-rift valley as the Dead Sea. Its surface, nearly 700 feet below the mean level of the Mediterranean Sea, makes it the second-lowest point on earth.

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