Israelis enjoying the beach
Israelis enjoying everything the beach has to offer during the Independence Day holiday in 2009. Photo by AP
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The swimming season begins today with hot and dry weather, a welcome respite after the rain and thunderstorms of recent weeks. Around 350 lifeguards will staff the country’s legally recognized beaches, with the season set to last until October 27.

The lifeguard association is opening the season on schedule, with no pending strikes or industrial action.

The damages of December’s storm will keep two beaches closed until further notice: Acadia center in Herzliya, and the gender-segregated beach in Tel Aviv. Both are being refurbished and are expected to open in June.

“There just hasn’t been enough time to fix the damage of the storm,” said Avi Afia, chairman of the lifeguard association. “They provided us with some solutions and I hope the work will be done in the coming months.”

He said that at some beaches, smaller lifeguard towers have been put up until the standard ones are completed. “We have to sit high up to look out far,” said Afia. “For the time being, some beaches have provided some smaller solutions, but it’s inconvenient and unpleasant.”

According to the Interior Ministry, 38 people drowned last year in Israel. This is fewer than the 43 in 2009 and the 44 in 2008.

The heat wave continued yesterday with temperatures inland and in the cities rising by 10 degrees; the mercury reached as as high as 38 degrees Celsius near Kiryat Gat.

Temperatures in Tel Aviv were lower thanks to the sea breeze, but further inland 30 degrees was achieved. The north was slightly cooler, and a cool breeze hit Lake Kinneret.

Temperatures in Jerusalem also reached 30 degrees.

The heat wave will continue this morning, but around noon cooler air will arrive, bringing down temperatures on the coastal plain. By evening, temperatures will drop by as much as eight degrees, skies will be partly cloudy and it may even rain.

Temperatures will drop even more on Friday, by around eight degrees Celsius in some areas, and light rain may fall in the center of the country and in the north. The cooling trend will continue into Sunday, with rain possible on the eve of Memorial Day. The weather forecast for Independence Day is still unclear, but it will probably be mild, with another heat wave unlikely.

The Water Authority released new data yesterday on rainfall and Israel’s water reserves, based on sediment measurements from various areas. The authority found that so far, 89 percent of Israel’s annual average rainfall has been achieved.

While in the north sediment has piled up far beyond the yearly average, in the southern coastal plain and in the hills it has fallen just short of the same measure. Last month’s rains sent plenty of water into Lake Kinneret, much more than in April last year. Most of April’s rains fell in the western Galilee, where groundwater levels increased considerably as a result.