Tales from the Edge: The Rise and Fall of the Rain Radar

I don’t know what it’s like far away in the center of the country, but here in the North we’re in crisis. The Macam Geshem (the rain radar) has fallen, and like a phoenix, it might take some years to rise from its ashes. At first we were sure it’s a hitch.  I mean they turn it off all summer, right? Perhaps a glitch in the matrix of Apple and Android and Google. Then rumors began, and Israel being Israel, someone knows someone who knows someone who knows what’s what. The Tweets confirmed rumors, and newspapers confirmed fact.  The radar was broken. It lasted 21 years, now we can’t find anyone to fix it.

The conspiracy theories began. It stopped working when we discovered the tunnels; we shouldn’t have made Netanyahu Minister of Weather; the new radar will only arrive with the train carriages from China. And the politics. Merav Michaeli blamed the government for leaving everything until the last minute, the Ministry of Transport promised 10 million shekels for a new radar. And the more serious stuff. It rains less without a radar. Cloud seeding planes (not an urban myth after all) don’t know when to fly. It’s harder to get advance warnings of flooding; farmers can’t farm effectively.  And in one comment, with which I sympathize, someone complained that the lack of radar had impacted his anxiety levels.

And then came the workaround, from the nation of workaround experts. I’ve sat at work meetings where no one knows what to do, except the Israeli With An Idea. It started low tech. My husband’s foot aches when it’s going to rain. The cows in the field sit down (surprisingly few cows in fields in the Galilee). There’s red sky in the morning. Then we looked to our neighbors, sharing “click here, click there” instructions for the Jordanian radar. We kvetched, of course. What? No solution for such a simple problem in the land of cutting-edge technology? (forgetting we’re also the land of fax). The Israel Meteorological Service, realizing the effect that “Radar stopped due to failure” might have upon the nation, came up with a workaround themselves. I haven’t investigated yet, but understand that it only works from Gush Dan north. Perhaps Israel Railways helped with them out.

The radar was an emerging national pastime, lagging just behind football and politics. And, better than football and politics, it’s inclusive, like Ikea on Motzei Shabbat. Those who claim that the British always talk about the weather should look to Israelis, who even with the world’s most predictable and boring weather, never stop talking about it. I for one obviously know there’s no conspiracy theory behind it all. Although I must admit I’ve noticed that it’s raining more since the radar broke down, which I’m sure is just coincidence. And now I’m waiting. Waiting for the first party that promises me peace and a new rain radar in their political manifesto. Thought I’m definitely not saying that I definitely might vote for them. I’m not saying that at all…

About the Author
Rayne Wiselman is a writer living in a kibbutz in the Galilee. Never quite sure how she ended up here, she mostly loves and never tires of living in this marvelous messy country.
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