By Benyamin Davidsons
In Israel, 2020 ushered in much more than just cheer. A brutal storm in Tel Aviv ushered in severe flooding. The storm smashed down more than 20 percent of the city’s average annual precipitation in the course of just three hours, breaking the rainfall record without delivering any of the benefits. Low-lying roads, including some major roads, were totally inaccessible due to flooding trapping residents and motorists. As reported by Haaretz, on Saturday, two adults drowned in a parking lot elevator in Central Tel Aviv after it short circuited in the flooded basement. On Sunday, another two people were killed in the north when their cars were carried away by flooding streams.
More than 3.5 inches of rain pounded down on the Tel Aviv on Saturday, mostly between 11 A.M. and 1 P.M, with 4 more inches on Sunday, as per the municipality. Tel Aviv is expecting more storms beginning on Tuesday, which are slated to continue all week long.
Sure, the weather forecasts had predicted a storm and warned residents to stay away from riverbeds, but no one could have expected anything quite so intense. The municipality cannot reasonably be held responsible for not doing more. Short of investing massive amounts of valuable taxpayer funds to develop a totally new drainage system, there was not much that could have been done. This kind of storm is a very rare event in Tel Aviv, with some forecasters saying the freak storms have occurred up to once every 10 years in recent decades.
The storm was also unpredictable, in that no one could know where it would hit. As per Haaretz, just 30 miles away in Hadera, they got very little rain. Neighboring Be’er Sheva barely got much rain at all. Furthermore, short term weather forecasts have become increasingly unreliable. Israelis have been inundated with frequent flood warnings and requests to avoid riverbeds which end up being false alarms. The “once every 50-year storms” seem to be coming by every 10 years, and even more. In 2013, the Ayalon, the famous highway cutting through Tel Aviv, was transformed into a river because of a “once-in-100-year storm.” But the very next year it was repeated, and then again in 2018.
Climate change and global warming are being named the culprits of the chaotic atmospheric fluctuations and unpredictability. Heatwaves, wildfires, drought, and storms are all symptoms being faced across the globe. “Based on extensive scientific evidence, it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. There is no alterative explanation supported by convincing evidence,” reads a 2019 statement by the American Geophysical Union. Most climate scientists agree.
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