After a week of blistering heat, meteorologists expect thermometers to begin returning on Friday to more seasonable numbers.

Through Thursday night, severe heat stress persisted in most of the country, with temperatures reaching the 40s-Celsius in Eilat and the high 30s in Jerusalem – and high humidity drenching cities along the Mediterranean coast.

On Friday, there will be considerable relief in the heat stress, but temperatures will remain unseasonably warm, according to Israel Meteorological Services. On Saturday, however, the meteorologists expect temperatures to return to seasonal norms.

Such high temperatures in Israel are not considered “exceptional events” when they occur for a string of two to three days, and such events occur annually, according to the Israel Meteorological Services. But a heat wave that lasts seven or eight days, as it did this time, is somewhat abnormal in certain parts of the country, the IMS said in a report.

Some regions – such as Jerusalem, Kfar Blum in the Galilee Panhandle, and Beersheba and other southern locations – have not seen such a prolonged heat wave for more than 50 years, the report added.

Meanwhile, for the second day in a row, peak demand electricity set an all-time high on Thursday, reaching 11,920 megawatts at 2:10 p.m., the Israel Electric Corporation said. Maximum generation capacity for Thursday stood at 12,500 megawatts with a 580-megawatt reserve.

For most of the day, the power level on the IEC’s website remained at a “yellow” level, during which the IEC is working to stabilize electricity supply around the country. By late afternoon, however, the levels had approached the more critical “orange” stage, during which demand is becoming dangerously close to supply.

On Wednesday, demand had also broken a record, reaching 11,680 megawatts, while production capacity stood at only 11,880 megawatts, with just a 200-megawatt reserve.

The increased production capacity on Thursday came as the Orot Rabin power plant in Hadera, which had been out of service for about a week, once again became operational on Wednesday night, adding 575 megawatts to the IECs generation capacity.

“It must be noted that the public’s response in refraining from using appliances during peak hours was essential and significant,” said IEC’s CEO, Eli Glickman. “We believe that the lowered demand reduced the electricity demand yesterday by 300 to 350 megawatts.”

With cooler temperatures expected this weekend, the IEC said that the burden on the electricity supplies will be eased, especially with the return to operation of the Hadera power plant.

“After several difficult days, the public deserves a medal for saving the electricity sector [on Wednesday] and [Thursday] about 300 to 350 megawatts each day,” Glickman said.

He stressed the importance of transparency and open communication with the public, encouraging people to make use of the IEC’s new Facebook page, as well as media messages now translated into English, Arabic and Russian.

“Summer is not over and I call upon the public to continue to cooperate with us,” Glickman said.

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