Electricity demand surges as Jordan Valley hits 49°C

Accompanying the severe heat throughout the country was a surge in electricity usage – significant enough to break all-time consumption records.

August 3, 2015 00:18
2 minute read.
Jordan Valley

A Palestinian rides a donkey near Jericho in the southern part of the Jordan Valley January 1, 2014.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

As temperatures escalated on Sunday to the highest level yet this season during what will be a weeklong heat wave, electricity consumption breached all-time records.

Extreme heat plagued much of the country during the day, rising to as high as 49°C (120°F) at Kibbutz Gilgal and Beit Ha’arava in the southern Jordan Valley, the Israel Meteorological Service reported. In several places, temperatures nearly reached – and in some cases surpassed – the maximum values ever recorded in those locations, the IMS said.

The sizzling heat wave, which began on Thursday and is expected to continue throughout the week, is the result of an upper air ridge that formed due to subtropical high pressure, according to Dr. Amos Porat, head of the IMS climate department.

“It moves very slowly so it continues for a while,” he told The Jerusalem Post at the beginning of the heat wave on Thursday. “An area of high pressure causes the air to descend and, as it does so, it becomes warmer and drier.”

In general, the parts of the country battered with the most extreme heat on Sunday were the eastern valleys, where temperatures hovered between 43-46°C, IMS data showed. On the eastern slopes of the Galilee, on the southern Golan Heights and in the Jezreel Valley, temperatures reached 42-43°C, while those in the central mountains climbed to 40-41°C.

On the northern Golan Heights, the remainder of the Galilee, the Shfela region and the northern Negev, station thermometers rose to 38-40°C.

Although the Coastal Plain was slightly cooler at 34-36°C, humidity there reached 60-70 percent. Along the country’s Mediterranean beach strip, temperatures were significantly lower at 31°C, but accompanied by 80% humidity.

The IMS emphasized that although the current heat wave has featured extreme conditions, it is by no means unusual, tending to occur every few years. Particular heat waves of note occurred in August of 1998 and 2010, as well as in July of 2000, 2002 and 2012.

IMS stations around the country that recorded temperatures either near or exceeding all-time peaks were Kibbutz Gilgal in the Jordan Valley (49.3°C), Havat Eden in the Beit She’an Valley (46.3°C), Sodom in the Judean Desert (46°C) and Nir Ha’emek Youth Village near Afula (40.9°C).

Accompanying the severe heat throughout the country was a surge in electricity usage – significant enough to break all-time consumption records.

At about 3 p.m., electricity usage reached 12,525 megawatts, leaving a reserve of only around 900 megawatts, the Israel Electric Corporation reported. The record-breaking electricity usage occurred a day after Israelis consumed the most power ever on a summer Saturday – 9,956 megawatts.

The previous record for peak summer consumption occurred on July 19, 2012, at 11,880 mega-watts; for all seasons, the peak was this year on January 12, when it climbed to 11,930 megawatts.

Despite the reserve power available, the IEC warned that if a system malfunction were to occur, electricity outages are possible.

Meanwhile, due to a severe sandstorm that engulfed the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, two Jordanian aircraft landed at Ben-Gurion Airport briefly in the late afternoon, the Airports Authority said. Once the storm subsided, the planes refueled and continued on to Amman.

The IMS predicted that conditions going forward would be less intense than those on Sunday, though forecasts warned of continued heavy heat stress in most regions around the country, as well as mugginess along the coast and chances of isolated showers in the South and East.

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