Israelis enjoy the day off on Election Day at Palmachim Beach south of Tel Aviv, March 16, 2015.
(photo credit: SHARON UDASIN)
As extremely high temperatures scalded the country from north to south on Monday, meteorologists expect the heat wave to continue through Tuesday.
The heat caused brushfires around the country, including in Salit, Wadi Ara, the Galilee and the Golan Heights. A fire also broke out near the Atarot industrial zone in Jerusalem.
The hottest weather on Monday occurred in the Jordan Valley and the Arava, where Israel Meteorological Service stations measured temperatures of between 43-45° Celsius, according to data provided by IMS Climate Department head, Dr. Amos Porat. While the heat wave – or sharav, in Hebrew – hit these areas the hardest, particularly high temperatures of between 39-42° were also recorded in the Coastal Plain, the Shfela region, the northern valleys, and the Negev.
“The sharav is caused by an upper air ridge accompanied by a Red Sea trough on the surface with an easterly to southeasterly flow,” Porat said. “This brings warm and dry air from the desert.”
Because the easterly-southeasterly winds blew right toward the coastline, these areas also experienced very hot weather, with temperatures in Tel Aviv rising to 40.8°, Porat explained. In the country’s mountain areas, however, temperatures rose to only 33-35°.
The high temperatures were accompanied by very low humidity – just 5 percent in the coastal plain, the IMS data said.
While the weather was very hot on Monday, such heat wave events often occur in the spring, and annual temperature peaks have been recorded during May in many cases, Porat explained. Heat waves with temperatures of over 40° tend to happen in the Coastal Plain and the Shfela once every year or two, but such hot conditions typically occur in the beachside areas only once every five to seven years, he said.
The last time temperatures over 40° were recorded in Tel Aviv was in May 2003, and before that, in 2002, 1994, 1988, and 1985. The peak level obtained in the city was on May 15, 1988, when 43.5° was measured, the IMS said.
At the IMS station in Negba, a kibbutz in the northern Negev east of Ashkelon, thermometers recorded the fourth highest temperature ever for that station – 43.5° – since the beginning of measurements at the station in 1939. A higher temperature was measured in 1980, reaching 44°.
While the sharav conditions are expected to continue on Tuesday, Porat said that the coastal plain is likely to experience a decline in temperatures – though they will still be unseasonably warm.
As the current broiling weather is due to continue on Tuesday, the Health Ministry issued an advisory on Monday urging the public to keep out of the sun and drink a lot of water. The elderly and babies should be especially protected from the elements, but people of all ages and medical conditions could suffer from dehydration if they are not careful. The ministry warned against unnecessary exertion and stressed the importance of drinking water regardless of thirst and staying in air-conditioned places as much as possible.
Due to the risk of forest fires, Fire and Rescue Service Commissioner Shahar Ayalon on Sunday evening banned fires in public places in most of the country, including the Golan Heights, the Galilee, the Mount Carmel area, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.
“We are asking the public to be alert regarding forest fires and to call us as soon as fire or smoke is seen,” the Fire and Rescue Service said.Judy Siegel contributed to this report.