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Superstorm in Tel Aviv

And the rain was upon the earth forty days and forty nights.—Genesis 7:12

 

 

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In late October 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated the Caribbean, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Northeastern United States; it hit with less strength the Southeastern and Midwestern USA, and Eastern Canada. Sandy was a true superstorm; it affected 24 states in the USA, caused 253 deaths in 7 countries, and cost over $66 billion in material damages. In the USA, it was the second costliest storm after 2005 Katrina. In Cuba, it was the fourth costliest hurricane, causing damages of over $2 billion to the impoverished island. A storm of continental magnitude, it reminded us of our own fragility.

Superstorm in Tel Aviv

Middle East storms cannot compete with Sandy's statistics; rain in the Holy Land is scarce, happening mainly during the short winter. Sand storms occur during the extra-short spring and autumn, but they are just an annoying nuisance. January and February are the rainiest months; their combined average precipitations in Tel Aviv are less than 300mm. Yet, numbers can deceive. Often, the precipitations of an entire season are poured out in three or four storms. It seldom rains, but when it does, it pours!

Ayalon Highway—January 8, 2013

Ayalon Highway—January 8, 2013
Superstorm Sandy: A Diary in the Dark

Ayalon Highway—January 8, 2013

Ayalon Highway—January 8, 2013
The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, and the Mississippi Gulf Coast

One such storm began yesterday, January 7, 2013, and was still on at the time these lines were written. I bothered to collect the official meteorological data and found nothing unusual. Between midnight and noon of January 8, the stations surrounding Tel Aviv reported up to 60mm of rain; for the sake of my American readers, this is just over two inches of rain. The large drops fell vertically on the ground; they were not accompanied by any significant winds. Thus, the event cannot qualify as a tornado, a hurricane, a typhoon, a superstorm, or any other significant meteorological event. It was far from the Biblical Deluge. Yet, this strong winter rain flooded Tel Aviv's Ayalon Highway, the main road crossing the city. Since yesterday, it is closed in both directions and its railway traffic was stopped.

One of the achievements of Yitzhak Rabin in his second term as Prime Minister (1992-1995) was a decision to modernize Israel's network of roads. The most visible result of this initiative was the creation of the Ayalon Highway (Road #20). Until then, there were no highways crossing the city; traveling from Haifa in the north to Jerusalem in the east through Tel Aviv was a nightmare. Ayalon Highway was designed as a 30km long, wide road connecting all the highways reaching Tel Aviv, mainly highways #1 from Jerusalem, and #2 from Haifa. It runs parallel to the Ayalon River (more often than not a languid stream), it includes several railways and an additional one is planned to be constructed over the water stream. On regular days, 600,000 cars pass through it; navigating through the area without using it, is unthinkable now. All the images of the metropolis showing modern roads depict different angles of this project.

Today, the city is clogged again; the project seems to belong to a far, innocent past. Hebrew media are hysterically reporting on the flood, already mentioning plans to solve the issue. This time the floods are of extraordinary magnitude, but eventually every year similar events happen. A demand to revert the Ayalon River back to its historic path is the most common request. In the past, the river reached the Mediterranean Sea at Jaffa, south of Tel Aviv. Due to floods there, it was diverted so that it would flow into the Yarkon River, on Tel Aviv's northern side. The latter is rather small, thus if the Ayalon River substantially increases its flow, the city experiences an almost biblical flood with just two inches of a sudden rain.

Ayalon Highway | January 8, 2013

Ayalon Highway | January 8, 2013

"It will be OK"

Rabin often complained about the "It will be OK"* Israeli spirit. "It will be OK," is the invariable Israeli answer to any problem. It seldom checks out; it is seldom said while knowing the solution to the problem. When hearing an Israeli saying "it will be OK," one should begin to seriously worry. If they add "don't worry"**, drop everything and run away as fast as you can. Rabin's favorite project proved suffering of the same problem. "It will be OK," the engineers said in a sunny summer discussion, thinking that it will never rain again. When it did, the people discovered that they didn't provide a solution to two inches of rainwater; this is known as Isra-bluff.

As expanded in "Israel will win due to Technological Advantage," this odd attitude characterizes the entire Israeli society. Israel likes to boast about its advanced technological level. Nowadays, the most emphasized item are the anti-missiles technologies used in Operation Pillar of Cloud. Thus development was achieved with significant help from the USA and Singapore. On several occasions, I showed how even using data provided by the IDF, it is easy to prove that Israel is manipulating the data, increasing at least threefold the success rate of its short-range system. The medium-range and long-range ones are unknowns since they have not been extensively tested. Yet, they are promoted as deterrents to a future war. No less popular in Israeli propaganda productions is the strength of its air force, which is based on American equipment and technologies; excruciatingly detailed articles on how an air-attack on Iran would proceed, can be found regularly in the Hebrew media. Invariably, the articles portray a happy end for Israel. Finally, Israel likes to stress that if everything fails, they have the “Samson Option,” the use of nuclear missiles to be shot from Jericho missiles or from the German submarine fleet that Israel obsessively keeps enlarging. Were the Jericho missiles designed by engineers who graduated from the same academic institutions of those who built the Ayalon Highway? On January 8, 2013, the world got a reminder of the "it will be OK" spirit; it cannot thwart even two inches of rainwater.

———

*"y'ye beseder," in Hebrew. Literally "it-will-be in-order."

**"al tid'ag," in Hebrew. Literally "not you-will-worry."

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