Israel Weather Service Admits Broken Rain Radar 'Critical to Saving Lives'

After a string of malfunctions, the radar has now been down for two weeks, with no solution for farmers and rain-watchers in sight

Nir Hasson
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The rain radar as displayed on the Meteorological Service's website.
The rain radar as displayed on the Meteorological Service's website.
Nir Hasson

The Israel Meteorological Service has admitted its rain radar, which ran out of service two weeks ago, is of "critical importance to saving lives." Internal documents show that the radar, which has had numerous malfunctions over the past year, would not return to function in the foreseeable future.

As installing a new rain radar would take up to two years, the meteorological service is looking to hire a company to fix it.

The radar, which was installed 21 years ago, is the only one in Israel available for internet users. Many farmers and athletes, among others, have regularly used it to predict rainfall, but the system stopped working just as the wet season in Israel reached its peak.

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According to service's documents, the radar "is used as an operational tool in weather forecasting, bearing critical importance to saving lives. Radar imagery is distributed to various media outlets and to the general public, who make significant use of it."

The now-malfunctioning radar was installed at the Beit Dagan meteorological center in 1997. It would send out a laser beam and analyze cloud situation over Israel. The system would be updated every 10 minutes.

Several upgrades were made to its systems 11 years ago, and its computers were upgraded last year. However, according to the service's documents, a string of malfunctions began effecting the radar in September 2017.

Many Israelis began tracking the Jordanian rain radar, which also covers Israel, but in recent days there have been some problems accessing it online. Residents of northern Israel can also use the Turkish radar, which is only relevant to the northernmost part of the Upper Galilee.