As I mentioned in a previous blog, storms this year have been following typical storm tracks of old, passing eastward across Crete and then on to Cyprus. This brings both winter chill from Europe and moisture from the Mediterranean, which combines to bring the rain. The problem has been that there haven't been too many such storms so far this winter. Still, the last storm produced almost 50 mm (2 inches) of rain here in Efrat, in about 12 hours time.
In contrast, in recent years we've had several storms move southward from Western Russia/Siberia and down through Turkey, which have brought extreme cold, but not very much precipitation. They were "snow-teases" so to speak. Of course, one such storm brought us our heavy, heavy snow of December 2013, but it was positioned just right to produce plenty of precipitation under conditions quite cold enough for snow (in Jerusalem, etc).
Fortunately (although some would say with "Divine-Intervention" (see below)), the forecast shows two such Cyprus bearing low pressure systems moving our way during the coming week. Moreover, both storms could bring very heavy rain (even flooding rains), and the second should bring strong winds. Both should bring snow to the Hermon mountain. Moreover, because some of the global ensemble forecasts shows temperatures below -25 C at 500 mb, some of the storms could produce thunder and lightning.
Last Thursday, which was also a day of fasting, was chosen as the day to beseech God for rain. As noted at the Israel Meteorological Service's Web Site (http://www.ims.gov.il/IMSEng/Tazpiot/RainObservations/) we've received about 50% of normal rainfall amounts this winter. So, various Rabbis decided it was time to hold a communal prayer session. The invitation is below (in Hebrew), calling for special prayers, a sermon, and additional afternoon prayers special for this day of fasting. Strangely, it's also written ("No Chazaim Allowed"). Even stranger this phrase was noted in English, even though the writer used the Hebrew word for forecaster ("Chazaim"). What was I too make of it? What were they trying to keep me from seeing?
(Interestingly, I heard that prayers were also conducted today, despite the forecast of rain. Apparently, we learn from Mordechai of Purim-fame that one shouldn't stop praying for a miracle just because things are going well or the forecast looks good.)
I had dressed up in a large hat, painted a moustache below my nose, and made my way over to the prayer session. It was very well attended. Despite my disguise, I heard someone say: "why are you here, go home and do your job." Someone heard him, and soon after I was running down the sidewalk with a crowd behind me, each with a prayer sheet in their hands. Fortunately, a strong wind came and stopped this crowd, but not me in its tracks. I made my way home, and sheepishly explained to my wife where I'd been. She called in sick the next day to work.