Tag Archives: weather

Weather Forecasting Olive

Two months ago tonight my wife and I returned from leading a tour of Alpine Europe and spending 10 days in Israel on a personal excursion. We knew before we arrived that our house had been flooded as the result of a break in the water line leading to the refrigerator. We now have new flooring. The kitchen cabinets are installed, but we must wait about two more weeks for the counter top and putting the cabinets into full use. Just this little misfortune has terribly disrupted our life; perhaps this has been reflected in the number of blogs we have posted. Breakfast of cereal and coffee is about the only meal we have been able to have consistently, and that required moving from room to room to locate the needed items. Lately we have also been able to have a sandwich and fruit in the evening. We have spent at least a dozen nights in local hotels when we have been unable to get in our bedroom or when the dirtiest work was going on. It might sound like a vacation, but it’s not.

The Tampa, Florida area where I live has made the national news in the past few days because of the rains and flooding. I was just watching some of the late evening news a few minutes ago. We are barely in August, but the weatherman said we have already had more rain than the yearly average. During the first three days in August we had 8.42 inches. This is more than the monthly average. Some neighborhoods, especially those near the Gulf, the bay, or along rivers, are still under water. I feel for those folks and the length of time it will take them to get back to normal.

When we made our first tour to the Bible lands in 1967, the Old City of Jerusalem and the West Bank were still part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. We crossed from Jordan into Israel through the Mandelbaum Gate. Today the Grand Court Hotel, the Olive Tree Hotel, and another hotel stand in that area.

In May I walked past the Olive Tree Hotel and noticed the sign outside the hotel with the title “Weather Forecasting Olive.” I grabbed a shot with my cell phone and thought you might enjoy it.

Weather forecasting olive at the Olive Tree Hotel, Jerusalem

Weather forecasting olive at the Olive Tree Hotel, Jerusalem.

Actually I have noticed that the shrubs in my yard provide the same forecast. Well, except for the snow. We have had one dusting in the fifty+ years we have lived here.

Dust storms afflict Egypt, Palestine, and Israel

Almost four years ago I wrote a post about the strong East winds of the Middle East, also calling attention to the winds from the south. Several bloggers have called attention to a recent occurrence of the winds affecting Egypt, Palestine, and Israel in particular. I thought it would be appropriate to reprint some of that earlier material here with an update.

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Almost everyone who has visited Israel has learned of the West winds that make their way through the depressions around the Sea of Galilee and create storms on the Sea. Unless you travel in the “transitional season” or in the (dry) summer season you may not have learned about the East wind. This wind is called the sirocco. In Egypt it is known as the khamsin, and in Israel as the sharav.

Denis Baly, The Geography of the Bible (1974 ed., pp. 51-53), explains these winds. He says they occur in the transitional seasons from early April to mid-June, and from mid-September to the end of October. Baly says,

It is this intense dryness and the fine dust in the air which are so exhausting, for other hot days, though troublesome, do not have the same effect. People with a heart condition, nervous complaints, or sinus trouble are particularly affected, but even the mildest-tempered person is apt to become irritable and to snap at other people for no apparent reason. Tourists find the sirocco especially frustrating, for not only does travel become fatiguing, but the fine yellowish dust which fills the air drains it of all color, blots out all but the immediate vicinity, and makes photography a mockery.

Here is how Larry Haverstock described his day walking the Jesus Trail in an Email to me.

No blog last night because of the storm. I woke to high winds from the east which dusted up the air so badly that photos were mostly useless. Worst part was that it was directly against me and really HOT. Pushing against 20+ mph winds really took the steam out of me. By the end of the day I was utterly exhausted.  Drank my full 3 litres and had good dinners and breakfasts, but energy levels are still very low.

The photo below is one of the aerial shots Larry and I made a week earlier. It was made while flying over the west shore of the Sea of Galilee, with the view to the west. You can see Mount Arbel and the Wadi Hamam below. The Via Maris runs in this valley which is also called the Valley of the Doves. You will notice two lines of mountains further west.

I am rather sure that this is the route Larry was walking. Larry lived in Washington state for many years. I think he is not bothered by the sudden rains, but the intense heat and strong wind from the east may be another matter. I want you to think about the fact that all of the biblical characters from the Patriarchs to Jesus and His disciples encountered conditions similar to these (and worse).

Aerial view of Arbel, Wadi Hamam, and the Via Maris. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Aerial view of Arbel, Wadi Hamam, and the Via Maris. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Baly cites several biblical references to the east and south winds that bring in the hot air and the dust storms. He says, “Where the mountains come close to the sea a strong sirocco pours down the slopes like a flood, at 60 miles an hour or more, stirring the sea into a fury.”

By the east wind you shattered the ships of Tarshish. (Psalm 48:7 ESV)

In the prophecy against Tyre, Ezekiel says,

“Your rowers have brought you out into the high seas. The east wind has wrecked you in the heart of the seas. (Ezekiel 27:26 ESV)

Notice Elihu’s comments to Job about the south wind.

Do you know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him who is perfect in knowledge,  you whose garments are hot when the earth is still because of the south wind?  (Job 37:16-17 ESV)

Jesus also observed the effect of the south wind:

And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. (Luke 12:55 ESV)

Do you remember Jonah’s problems after enjoying the shade of his plant?

When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:8 ESV)

Baly calls attention to the effect of the spring siroccos on the crops.

The spring siroccos destroy the winter grass and may damage the crops if they come too soon, and hence they appear constantly in the Bible as a symbol of the impermanence of riches or of human life.

Note these additional references in your own study: Psalm 103:16; Isaiah 40:6-8; Hosea 13:15; Ezekiel 17:10; James 1:11. In a recent post Barry Britnell (Exploring Bible Lands) add Deuteronomy 28:15-24 here.

Larry Haverstock’s own description which he later wrote here in his blog is included here. (There are some great pictures of his descent from Mount Arbel.)

It was while making this first effort of the morning that I encountered my nemesis for the rest of the day.  It was only 10 o’clock but already a hot wind was blowing in my face.  What I couldn’t know at that moment was that as I climbed the western slope the mountain was acting as a shield so that I wouldn’t feel the brunt of this wind until I summited.  As soon as I stepped out upon the actual heights of Arbel I knew I was in for an unusual day.

The view was phenomenal and despite the dust in the air I got the following shot of the Plain of Gennesaret.  This is the Northwest corner of the Sea.  Just out of sight on the waterfront to the right are the ruins of ancient Magdala from whence one very famous Mary came.  All the rest of the shoreline is the area in which Jesus spent a tremendous amount of time, preached some of His very most famous sermons, worked many miracles, and made His home in Capernaum which is along the shore as it turns the corner and heads off to the right in the distance.  Much food for thought when you stand in this place.

Unfortunately, the wind was howling and dangerous here.  I don’t have a weather report, but guess it was in the vicinity of 40 miles an hour since I was actually being pushed off balance and forced to take a step now and then to keep from falling over.  It did give me pause, but I was determined to take the shorter, harder, steeper trail down, so I spent about 20 minutes re-rigging my equipment.  Fearing the monopod “sword” might jam itself on the rocks somehow I removed it from the under arm position and strapped it vertically to the back of the pack.  Then, using the extra leather chin strap rope I’d brought along for emergency, I took off my hat and lashed it on the back of the pack too.  This hat had a very wide and stiff brim which had helped shield my face from the gale on the way up, but was now a liability, capable of catching the wind and pulling me off balance, so I stowed it.  Then I took the pack’s belly straps and lengthened them so that rather than directly clutching my stomach, they came out and over the front pack so that I could tightly restrain it from swinging.  Having thus reduced my exposure to the wind I started down.

It was now man against mountain, rather than nonchalant tourist with a camera time.…

Shortly afterwards I called attention to the comparative photos that Dr. Carl G. Rasmussen has included in his Zondervan Atlas of the Bible, and on his Holy Land Photos website here. These photos provide a vivid contrast that the dust storms make.

In today’s Weekend Roundup at Bible Places Blog, Todd Bolen calls attention to the current article in The Jerusalem Post here, and the 25 or so outstanding large photos from Egypt, Palestine, and Israel in London’s Daily Mail here. Be sure to look at these photos.

I have experienced a delayed flight in Egypt due to the sand storms, and the scorching hot wind with dust in Israel, but nothing like these photos reveal.

Heavy rains bring flooding at Qumran

Jack Sasson, the Agade list, passes along a video about heavy rains Sunday in the area of Qumran on the shore of the Dead Sea in the Wilderness of Judea. (I think the rain was mostly in the Judean mountains.)

The video by אביחי שורשן is posted on YouTube.

Qumran is where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947.

This video reminds me of the fortunate experience I had in April 2006 when strong rains in the central mountain range caused floods in the wilderness near Saint George Monastery on Wadi Qelt. Read about it, and see more photos, here.

Floods in the desert of Judea overlooking Wadi Qelt at St. George Monastery. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Floods in the Judea wilderness near St. George Monastery. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Rivers in the Desert – Wadi Zin

Rivers in the Desert is the title of Nelson Glueck’s 1959 history of the Negev. These rivers also may be seen in the Judean wilderness and in the Sinai. Thomas Levy followed up on some of Glueck’s research in a Biblical Archaeology Review article in 1990.

If one travels in the desert during the summer months he will see a dry, desolate bad land with only an isolated tamarisk tree or shrub where the last water of the winter rain flowed. In the winter it can be different. Israel has two dominant seasons: winter and summer. The summer is dry and the winter is wet. The early rains begin about mid-October and continue till the late rains of early April. See Deuteronomy 11:14 and Joel 2:23.

Levy reminds us that “Nahal, incidentally, is Hebrew for a dry river bed or valley that flows at most a few times a year. In Arabic, the word is wadi. The two words are used interchangeably in Israel today.” The wadi is similar to the arroyo of the American southwest.

While traveling south of Beersheba, yesterday and today, we crossed the Wadi Zin (Joshua 13:21ff.) at least three times in each direction we traveled.

Here is what the Wadi looks like when it is dry.

Wadi Zin near Avedat in the Negev of Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Wadi Zin near Avedat in the Negev of Israel. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

And this marker on the highway shows travelers the depth of the water when the wadi is flooded. The person in the photo is six feet tall. The marker goes to 1.5 meters (about 5 feet), and the pole is higher.

Marker to let travelers know the depth of the water in the Wadi Zin.

Marker to let travelers know the depth of the water in the Wadi Zin. Photo by Dan Kingsley.

For more pictures, including rivers in the desert during the rain season, see here.

Rainy days in Galilee

We visited the area north of the Sea of Galilee today. Gentle rain was still falling when I first looked out at the Sea of Galilee this morning. By the time we reached Hazor the weather had cleared and we had a bright and sunny visit. A light rain fell at Dan, but at Caesarea Philippi there was a downpour like I have never seen during one of my tours.

After lunch there was clearing and we returned to the site for a more complete visit.

The right amount of rain is a wonderful blessing from the LORD. He promised His people that he would send the early rains and the late rain. The late rain comes about this time of year, and we are expecting more the next two days.

“It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the LORD your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. “He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.  (Deuteronomy 11:13-15 NAU)

The rain is a good thing to help correct a long-term drought that has afflicted Israel in recent years. Nowhere have we seen this more clearly than at the Sea of Galilee.

Here is a photo I made yesterday at Nof Ginosaur in the Biblical Gennesaret (Matthew 14:34). I walked out to the end of the pier that has been built to allow boats to drop off passengers.

Sea of Galilee at Nof Ginosaur, April 18, 2913. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

Sea of Galilee at Nof Ginosaur, April 18, 2913. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

And here is the same area in September, 2012.

The Sea of Galilee at Nof Ginosar, September, 2012. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Sea of Galilee at Nof Ginosar, September, 2012. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Kinneret Bot reports for April 18 that the Sea of Galilee is –209.94 meters below sea level. Americans typically translate that as –688.78 feet. A year ago the level was –693.44 feet (211.36 meters) bsl.

The early rain damages Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve

According to The Jerusalem Post’s Sharon Udasin, heavy rains caused damage to the Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve located in the Arabah (Arava) north of Eilat.

The heavy rains that drenched the Eilat mountains and southern Arava region on Sunday night led to the flooding of the Hai-Bar Yotvata Nature Reserve, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA) said on Monday.

Over the course of the night, park workers evacuated animals that were in danger of drowning, and others worked all night to rebuild fences that had collapsed during the flood.

By Tuesday, the nature reserve will be open as usual to visitors, an INPA statement said.

Despite the damage caused to the nature reserve, the rains brought with them “many blessings” as they watered the acacia trees – which are “a source of life in the desert” – and created a “rare, breathtaking site,” according to the INPA.

“The desert is now beautiful and gleaming, and this is the best time to hike in it and to enjoy the rich and spectacular landscape it has to offer,” said Doron Nissim, the Eilat district manager at the INPA.

More information about the weather expectations for this year is available here.

The photo below shows the Arabian Oryx, thought to be the reem of the Hebrew Bible. English versions typically translate this word with “wild ox” (Numbers 23:22; 24:8; Deuteronomy 33:17, et al. The King James Version uses the word unicorn.

Arabian Oryx at Hai-Bar Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Arabian Oryx at Hai-Bar Nature Reserve. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

If one travels in the desert during the summer months he will see a dry, desolate bad land with only an isolated acacia or tamarisk tree or a shrub where the last water of the winter rain flowed. In the winter it can be different. Israel has two dominant seasons: winter and summer. The summer is dry and the winter is wet. The early rains begin about mid-October and continue till the late rains of early April. See Deuteronomy 11:14; Psalm 84:6; Joel 2:23; James 5:7.

 “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,  he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.  And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. (Deuteronomy 11:13-15 ESV)

You might enjoy reading our earlier post about “Rivers in the Desert” here.

HT: Todd Bolen, Bible Places Blog. This Wednesday Roundup is especially full of helpful information.

From Cyprus to Pamphylia

Today we took a flight from Ercan Airport in the Turkish Republic of Cyprus to Turkey. Flying from Greece to Cyprus it was necessary to fly to Larnaca on the southern coast. Flights from Larnaca do not go to Turkey, and flights from Ercan do not go to Greece. Let’s put that aside for now.

The flight from Cyprus to Antalya (biblical Attalia) took about 45 minutes. I thought some about how Paul, Barnabas, and John Mark made their way from Paphos on Cyprus to Perga in Pamphylia (a few miles from the Antalya airport). The distance in a straight line is 185 miles. Here is Luke’s account of the journey.

Now Paul and his companions set sail from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem,  but they went on from Perga and came to Antioch in Pisidia.  (Act 13:13-14a ESV)

There are impressive Hellenistic and Roman ruins at Perga. Most of the Roman structures date to the second century A.D. This is where John Mark turned back from the work (Acts 13:13-14; 15:37-39). The text indicates that Perga was only a beginning point for work further north. On his return from the first journey, Paul spent some time preaching here (Acts 14:25).

Our plans do not include revisiting sites that we have recently visited, but here is a photo of the North-South street in the Agora of Perga. The view is toward the fountain at the head of the street. A local vendor spreads out her jewelry on the ancient street.

Perga in Pamphylia. N-S street in the Agora with a view toward the fountain. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

N-S street in the Perga agora with view toward the fountain. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

When we arrived at the Antalya International Airport I soon realized that we had come to the right place. The snack stand was named Cafe Pampilya. How appropriate.

Cafe Pamfilya in the Antalya International Airport. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Cafe Pamfilya in the Antalya International Airport. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Tonight we are staying on the Mediterranean Sea on the west side of Antalya (Acts 14:25). Antalya is the modern name for Attalia which served as the port of entry from Egypt and Syria to the interior of Asia. From here Paul sailed back to Antioch (Acts 14:25).

We have a nice view of the Lycian Mountains from our hotel balcony. Tomorrow we plan to drive along the coast to Myra (Acts 27:5) and other points west.

Lycian Mountains west of Antalya, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Lycian Mountains west of Antalya, Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Two week ago when I was in Turkey with the group, it was about 5-7 degrees warmer than usual. Today it has rained and the wind is cool.

A post I wrote about Perga and Attalia in 2007, in the early days of this blog, may be read here.